Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nanoparticle technology turns personal care products toxic

Nanoparticle technology has been in popular use by skincare and cosmetics companies now for roughly a decade. The process takes normal sized, visibly detectable particles of materials like mica and other common ingredients and turns them so small they are invisible to the naked eye. What would be the purpose behind micronizing particles? This makes products a more desirable consistency and caters to a perceived consumer demand for particular consistencies and ease of application. A perfect example is the use of nanoparticles of zinc oxide in sunscreens to reduce the "chalk white" effect that full sized particles can cause when applied to the skin. The problem with nanoparticles Minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, commonly used in sunscreen lotions, foundation and other liquid types of lotions are harmless in their normal size. They simply sit on the skin rather than absorbing in to the skin since they are too large to penetrate its protective barrier. However, when these are broken down into nanoparticles which are often smaller than the size of a red blood cell, they are easily absorbed into the skin. There is research showing that nanoparticles of zinc oxide and other ingredients like aluminum collect in parts of the brain and cause cell death. These particles are so easily absorbed that they are detectable in all areas of the body, including vital organs. Animal studies have shown that when they are applied to the skin, they penetrate tissues and cells causing damage when they begin to build up. The tiny size gives these particles the ability to travel the body extensively and can enhance their toxicity. Nanoparticle use not just found in cosmetics and personal care products Nanotechnology is not just used in topical skin care products. It is also used in food colorings, food packaging and even glare proof coatings on sunglasses. These are all areas of opportunity for these nanoparticles to be introduced into the body where they can cause tissue damage. Basically any consumer product that can benefit from a smoother consistency or requiring a certain look can use this particle technology to achieve this. This means we are likely using products now that contain these microscopic particles without realizing it. The FDA is getting involved Thanks to the continued appeals of consumer rights groups, the FDA has taken notice of nanotechnology. The agency recently drafted guidelines for the use of nanotechnology and has asked various companies known for extensive use of these ingredients for varying degrees of accountability. For foods or food packaging using nanoparticles, the FDA has stated that companies may need to ultimately submit safety data to continue using the technology. For cosmetics that are not regulated by the FDA currently, the agency has submitted warnings that these companies are ultimately responsible for the overall safety of their products. While this may not be groundbreaking, it is a step in the right direction and shows that the agency is aware there are serious health concerns regarding the use of nanoparticles. It has also raised public awareness on the issue and caused health-conscious consumers to ask the necessary questions about the products they use. Source -

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