Dutch research institute develops concept for nanomaterials risk assessment in cosmetics

By Andrew MCDOUGALL

- Last updated on GMT

Nanomaterials are often used in sunscreen products to improve SPF
Nanomaterials are often used in sunscreen products to improve SPF

Related tags Risk assessment European union Cosmetics Netherlands

The Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has developed a concept of a new electronic tool that could be used for the risk assessment of nanomaterials in cosmetics.

The Dutch research institute published details of this in a new report, commissioned by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), describing the content of a proposed electronic ‘NanoCosmetics’ tool.

It states that the outcome of the risk assessment is important as it indicates whether measures need to be taken to mitigate and/or reduce the observed risks.

Nanomaterials in cosmetics

Nanomaterials consisting of particles smaller than 0.1µm are increasingly being used in consumer products including cosmetics, with one of the main examples being in sunscreens to improve the Sun Protection Factor (SPF).

According to the European Commission, in cosmetic products, reference to ‘nanotechnology’ usually means the use of insoluble nanoparticles as ingredients. EU legislation provides a high level of protection of human health where nanomaterials are used in cosmetic products.

RIVM says that both regulators and manufacturers need to evaluate and manage consumer health risks that may be posed by the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics, and that it has found that it is feasible to develop an electronic tool, or computer program, that allows an estimation of this risk.

The NanoCosmetics tool needs to cover all aspects of the risk assessment, meaning it has to contain the following components: the physicochemical characterisation of the nanomaterials, the estimation of the consumer exposure, the possible hazards (toxicity) induced by the nanomaterials, and finally the risk assessment itself.

RIVM says that in cases where only limited information is available, the tool will use default values as input data for the risk assessment. These default values will generally result in a conservative outcome.

The research institute also notes that several challenges remain especially with regard to the foreseen lack of data.

However, parameters for which data are lacking can be replaced with default factors. It is expected that data on read-across and grouping will become available in the future, to fill in potential gaps in the risk assessment of nanomaterials.

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