Getting under your skin

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In a recent inventory of nano-related products [for moredetails, see Maynard, A., Nano Today (2006) 11 (2), 22],over 200 were found in consumer goods from sportingequipment to computer processors. According to a recentreport from Friends of the Earth, there are 116 of these incosmetics and related skincare products. The groupsreport, Nanomaterials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics: SmallIngredients, Big Risks (available on their website, calls for amoratorium on the commercial release of all productscontaining nanomaterials until they have been subject to arigorous health and environmental safety assessment.Friends of the Earth argues, contrary to many regulatoryauthorities, that nanomaterials should be considered asnew chemicals since they can have properties substantiallydifferent from their bulk or even micro-sized counterparts. It is not difficult to pick holes in such a blanketgeneralization of the risks of nanomaterials. The reportitself reveals a number of crucial ifs to the argument:nanomaterials could be a worry if they are significantlydifferent in behavior from their bulk or micro-sizedcounterparts. Nanomaterials in cosmetics and skincareproducts could be a problem if there is demonstrable proofthat such materials can penetrate the skin. (Initial resultson the skin penetration of nanoparticles is conflicting.) Theproduction of nanomaterials could be a problem toworkers or the wider environment if there is exposure andif there is evidence to suggest that such exposure is(potentially) harmful. Very little data currently exists onthese points, especially with relation to the environment.However, the report does highlight some very importantissues. A big question hangs over whether nanomaterialsshould be treated the same as their bulk counterparts interms of safety regulation. Despite many calls for action,governments and regulatory bodies around the world arebeing slow to act on this point. The Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) in the US, for example, seems to bewoefully underestimating the number of nano-relatedproducts on the market or their significance. The issue ofnanomaterials in cosmetics and skincare products is, itseems to me, a small part of a much larger question ofhow closely (or otherwise) ingredients in such productsshould be regulated. According to Friends of the Earth,only 11% of the 10 000+ ingredients used in cosmeticshave been safety assessed under the Cosmetics IndustryReview Panel. We should be just as concerned about thesafety of new chemicals as we are about new nano-ingredients. Friends of the Earth are not the first tosuggest that industry should make their safety datapublicly available, but to little avail.While there are no doubt some legitimate concerns aboutnano-ingredients in cosmetics and skincare products, itseems that nanotechnology is bearing the brunt of moregeneral concerns about what is in the products we use. Editorial Advisory PanelTakuzo AidaUniversity of Tokyo, JapanGang BaoGeorgia Institute of TechnologyFlemming BesenbacherUniversity of Aarhus, DenmarkLuis Liz-MarznUniversidade de Vigo, SpainDan LuoCornell University E. W. MeijerEindhoven University ofTechnology, The NetherlandsChad MirkinNorthwestern UniversityC.N.R. RaoJawaharlal Nehru Centre forAdvanced Scientific Research, IndiaJohn RogersUniversity of Illinois at UrbanaChampaignFrancesco StellacciMassachusetts Institute ofTechnologyMauricio TerronesInstituto Potosino de InvestigacinCientfica y Tecnolgica, MexicoZhong Lin WangGeorgia Institute of TechnologyMark WellandUniversity of Cambridge, UKGeorge WhitesidesHarvard UniversityYounan XiaUniversity of WashingtonPeidong YangUniversity of California, BerkeleyEDITORIALAn environmental group is callingfor a ban on nanotechnology-ingredients in cosmetics andskincare products.Cordelia Sealy | Managing Editor | c.sealy@elsevier.comGetting under your skinAUGUST 2006 | VOLUME 1 | NUMBER 3 1Published byElsevier Ltd.The Boulevard, Langford Lane,Kidlington, OX5 1GB, UKEditorialManaging Editor Cordelia SealyE-mail: c.sealy@elsevier.comEditor Jonathan WoodE-mail: j.wood@elsevier.comEditorial Assistant James QuinneyE-mail: j.quinney@elsevier.comSenior Production/Design Controller Lin LucasE-mail: materialstoday@elsevier.comAdvertisingAdvertisements Manager Kevin PartridgeE-mail: k.partridge@elsevier.comAdvertisement Sales, USA John Lucas E-mail: j.lucas@elsevier.comAdvertisement Sales, Europe David KayE-mail: circulation enquiriesNano Today, Tower House,Sovereign Park, Market HarboroughLE16 9EF, UKTel: +44 (0)1858 439 601Fax: +44 (0)1858 434 958E-mail: orders & paymentsPrice: 62 / US$75Europe/ROW Tel: +31 20 485 3757USA Tel: +1 212 633 3730 Elsevier Ltd. 2006Nano Today is owned and published byElsevier Ltd. 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