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Sunscreen containing Nanoparticles
Nanotechnology and sunscreens
Nanotechnology involves the manipulation of tiny particles of matter on the scale of atoms and molecules. It is already well known in a range of products in the marketplace and is expected to play an increasingly significant role in the future.1 Nanotechnology offers a number of potentially important benefits in health care, such as improving the specific targeting of medicines to reduce side effects and increase effectiveness, developing more sensitive diagnostic agents, and new, more desirable ways to administer therapies.
Nanotechnology is used in some sunscreen products containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These two chemicals are particularly valuable in sunscreens because they give broad protection from damaging sunlight.
In conventional applications zinc oxide and titanium dioxide leave a white layer on the skin, but when they are reduced to nanoparticles this white layer does not appear while still providing the same level of protection from the sun. As such, this has proved a popular option with consumers.
Recently, concern has been raised as to whether nanoparticles in sunscreen might be absorbed into viable cells below the skin’s surface, risking damage to these cells.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration actively monitors matters relating to the regulation of nanotechnologies and has found no current evidence to suggest that sunscreen nanoparticles pose greater safety risks than conventional products.
In Australia, all active ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, must be declared on sunscreen labels, to help consumers make informed choices. However, it is not a requirement for sunscreen labels to declare the particle size of the active ingredients.
Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. It remains a public health priority to promote the use of sunscreens to reduce sun-induced skin damage that may lead to skin cancers.2
Reviewed: 15 May 2013