Friday, September 08, 2006

How toxic are the nano-cosmetics?

Following up on my previous post on archaeo-nano-cosmetology, here's a Chemical and Engineering News report [link via Prof. Ranganathan) about the presence of nanomaterials (including fullerenes) in modern cosmetics. Just look at the marketing spiel:

These fullerene-based products are marketed as cutting-edge science, touting the antioxidant and radical-scavenging properties of C60. Zelens, for example, calls C60 its "Nobel Prize-winning ingredient."

The author, Bethany Halford, goes on to add:

Chemical common sense tells us that a Nobel Prize-winning discovery doesn't necessarily translate to a fantastic consumer product. After all, Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize for the discovery of radium and polonium, but we wouldn't put those in a skin cream. You can see how this might confuse the average consumer.

Do read the whole article, which does a good job of presenting what is known about the toxicology of some of the nano-entities in modern cosmetics. And what is known right now appears to tell us to avoid them until they are proven to be absolutely safe.


  1. gaddeswarup said...

    Pl. also see
    "A majority of these projects are focused on the food industry. Examples include wrappers that can detect whether or not food is safe to eat or nanomaterials aimed at enhancing the biological activity of dietary supplements.

    When it came to agriculture, Kuzma and VerHage found projects focused on developing nanomaterials to neutralize pollutants or extremely sensitive devices to monitor how water flows through farmlands, to perhaps reveal how to stop runoff from crops or prevent livestock from contaminating nearby streams and lakes.

    "However, what concerns me is that there is not enough information on the toxicity of some nanomaterials mentioned with regard to food and agriculture—for instance, carbon nanotubes, or silver or titanium dioxide nanoparticles," Kuzma said.

    One project proposes to use carbon nanotubes on the surfaces of milk pasteurization equipment to prevent the equipment from getting fouled.

    "I don't know whether that's a good idea or not. That's the point. We don't have enough information as a society to decide that," Kuzma said.

    "The most important aspect of the database we created is that anyone can search it, to help people think about the future and anticipate policy and risk issues," she added."
    There are links below the article to earlier warnings. I guess that as with any new technology, there will be people eager to make quick profits but there seem already some efforts to prevent abuses. I do not know any thing more about this than the articles that I have seen at the above site.