Connect
MJA
MJA

Potential risks and benefits of nanotechnology: perceptions of risk in sunscreens

Paul FA Wright
Med J Aust 2016; 204 (10): 369-370. || doi: 10.5694/mja15.01128

The available evidence indicates that nanoparticle sunscreens are both effective and safe

The applications for engineered nanomaterials and nanotechnology are developing exponentially, along with the awareness in government, industry and public groups of nanosafety issues. There is also growing public concern caused by negative perceptions among some high profile groups that nano-enabled products are proliferating uncontrollably and being released without adequate testing of their safety.1

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • Paul FA Wright

  • RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Correspondence: paul.wright@rmit.edu.au

Competing interests:

I have received research funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Safe Work Australia, the CSIRO Flagship collaboration fund top-up scholarship scheme, the Australian Synchrotron Foundation, and the Advanced Manufacturing Co-operative Research Centre (AMCRC) in cooperation with the commercial entities, the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM), Baxter Laboratories, and Micronisers. I am affiliated with NanoSafe Australia and Asia Nano Safe research networks (as founding coordinator), the Australian Nanotechnology Network, the Standards Australia Technical Committee NT-001 (Nanotechnologies), the Safe Work Australia Nanotechnology OHS Measurement Reference Group, the Australian consortium for the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) and its Sponsorship Programme for the Testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials, and am a Fellow of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

  • 1. Wright PFA, Jackson NRC. Safety of engineered nanomaterials and occupational health and safety issues for commercial scale production. In: Bawa R, Audette GF, Reese BE, editors. Handbook of clinical nanomedicine: law, business, regulation, safety, and risk. Singapore: Pan Stanford Publishing, 2016; pp 569-619.
  • 2. Wallace GG, Higgins MJ, Moulton SE, Wang C. Nanobionics: the impact of nanotechnology on implantable medical bionic devices. Nanoscale 2012; 4: 4327-4337.
  • 3. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks. Opinion on nanosilver: safety health and environmental effects and role in antimicrobial resistance (approved 10 June 2014). Luxembourg: European Commission, 2014. http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/emerging/docs/scenihr_o_039.pdf (accessed Sept 2015).
  • 4. Industrial Development Bureau, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan. nanoMark [website]. http://www.nanomark.org.tw/Eng/ (accessed Sept 2015).
  • 5. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. Opinion on zinc oxide (nano form) (COLIPA S 76; SCCS/1489/12) (adopted 18 Sept 2012). Luxembourg: European Commission, 2012. http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_103.pdf (accessed Sept 2015).
  • 6. Berube DM. Rhetorical gamesmanship in the nano debates over sunscreens and nanoparticles. J Nanopart Res 2008; 10: 23-37.
  • 7. Egerton TA, Tooley IR. UV absorption and scattering properties of inorganic-based sunscreens. Int J Cosmet Sci 2012; 34: 117-122.
  • 8. Barker PJ, Branch A. The interaction of modern sunscreen formulations with surface coatings. Prog Org Coat 2008; 62: 313-320.
  • 9. Gulson B, McCall M, Korsch M, et al. Small amounts of zinc from zinc oxide particles in sunscreens applied outdoors are absorbed through human skin. Toxicol Sci 2010; 118: 140-149.
  • 10. Osmond-McLeod MJ, Oytam Y, Kirby JK, et al. Dermal absorption and short-term biological impact in hairless mice from sunscreens containing zinc oxide nano- or larger particles. Nanotoxicology 2014; 8 Suppl 1: 72-84.
  • 11. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. Opinion on titanium dioxide (nano form) (COLIPA S 75; SCCS/1516/13; adopted 22 April 2014). Luxembourg: European Commission, 2014. http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_136.pdf (accessed Sept 2015).
  • 12. Feltis BN, O’Keefe SJ, Harford AJ, et al. Independent cytotoxic and inflammatory responses to zinc oxide nanoparticles in human monocytes and macrophages. Nanotoxicology 2012; 6: 757-765.
  • 13. James SA, Feltis BN, deJonge MD, et al. Quantification of ZnO nanoparticle uptake, distribution and dissolution within individual human macrophages. ACS Nano 2013; 7: 10621-10635.
  • 14. Shen C, James SA, deJonge MD, et al. Relating cytotoxicity, zinc ions and reactive oxygen in ZnO nanoparticle exposed human immune cells. Toxicol Sci 2013; 136: 120-130.
  • 15. Luo M, Shen C, Feltis BN, et al. Reducing ZnO nanoparticle cytotoxicity by surface modification. Nanoscale 2014; 6: 5791-5798.
  • 16. Shen C, Turney TW, Piva TJ, et al. Comparison of UVA-induced ROS and sunscreen NP-generated ROS in human immune cells. Photochem Photobiol Sci 2014; 13: 781-788.
  • 17. Turney TW, Duriska MB, Jayaratne V, et al. Formation of zinc-containing nanoparticles from Zn2+ ions in cell culture media: implications for the nanotoxicology of ZnO. Chem Res Toxicol 2012; 25: 2057-2066.

Author

remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Comment
Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

access_time 03:37, 9 June 2016
Louise Sales

The view that nano-ingredients in sunscreen are safe is not shared by the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS). This body recently recommended that certain nano titanium dioxide ingredients not be used in sunscreen because they strongly react with sunlight to produce damaging free radicals. In fact, Paul Wright’s own research suggests that nanoparticles of anatase titanium dioxide increase the production of free radicals in human immune cells – yet this ingredient is still allowed in sunscreen in Australia.

The SCCS further recommends that nano titanium dioxide and nano zinc oxide not be used in powder or sprayable products because of the toxicity risk associated with inhalation. Meanwhile our regulators here have taken no action to remove these ingredients from spray on sunscreen.

In 2004, the UK Royal Society argued that nanomaterials pose different risks to larger particles of the same chemicals and need to be assessed for safety before being allowed in consumer products. It is a shocking indictment of our Government’s lack of precaution that over a decade later these substances have still not been assessed for safety, despite being used in a growing number of consumer products.

Competing Interests: No relevant disclosures

Ms Louise Sales
Friends of the Earth

Responses are now closed for this article.