Nanomaterials very unlikely to damage skin if topically applied, says EPA

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nanomaterials very unlikely to damage skin if topically applied, says EPA

Related tags: Nanomaterials, Ultraviolet, Sunscreen

The risk of topical products containing nanomaterials, such as sunscreens, damaging or penetrating the skin is very limited, according to a new report compiled by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the ‘Better control of nanomaterials’ initiative, the health dangers come from ingesting or inhaling, and that topical cosmetics use is generally considered safe.

Nanomaterials have been under scrutiny over recent times as there was a fear that they could enter the body through absorption through the skin. Nanomaterials such as zinc oxide are often used as UV filters in sunscreens, and the new report suggests there is no reason to doubt their safety if topically applied.

“Damage to the skin or absorption of nanomaterials through the skin is very limited,”​ says the EPA report. “The report stresses that on the basis of current knowledge, there is no risk associated with the uptake of nanomaterials through the skin. “

The report goes on to highlight the benefits of using sunscreen and that these benefits need to be compared to the possible risks associated with exposure by ingestion.

The study only slight concern raised by the EPA, is that one of the studies it looked at indicates that based on conservative worst-case assumptions, nanomaterials in sunscreen products may be ingested (one example is sun protecting lip balm) and that this can be linked with a possible risk.

The initiative also suggests that there is no significant risk to the freshwater environment from current usage of nanomaterials and their potential for release to the environment.

4-year project

The ‘Better control of nanomaterials’ report​, summarises a four-year project launched by the government in 2012 focusing on Danish consumers and the Danish environment, bringing together the results of 30 reports.

The initiative also led to the establishment of the Danish nano product register (Statutory Order 644/2014).

The initiative states that there is still a need for more information on where nanomaterials are used, on which nanomaterials that are used and on the extent to which consumers and the environment are exposed to them.

Work is also in progress to facilitate a continuous improvement in knowledge that will allow better assessment of the hazards of nanomaterials and the health and environmental risks that they pose.

It adds that “the conclusions of this summary report should therefore be taken with some reservation.”

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