High risk nano-sunscreens still on sale TGA refuses to act

Sunscreen is an important part of millions of Australians' summer holidays.

But the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has taken no action to stop use in sunscreens of high risk nanoparticles, more than a year after these ingredients were identified by BlueScope Steel researchers.

Check here for a copy of the sunscreen guide.

Media Release - Friends of the Earth
22 December 2009

High risk nano-sunscreens still on sale – TGA refuses to act

Sunscreen is an important part of millions of Australians' summer holidays.

But the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has taken no action to stop use in sunscreens of high risk nanoparticles, more than a year after these ingredients were identified by BlueScope Steel researchers.

In a peer-reviewed study published last year, BlueScope Steel found that some nano-sunscreen ingredients were extremely photocatalytic, aggressively generating free radicals that caused damage to pre-painted steel roofs that was 100 times faster than usual.


Yet in recent correspondence to Friends of the Earth, the TGA has said that it did not think the findings were sufficient to warrant such ingredients being kept out of sunscreens.

“The TGA is completely out of touch with mainstream scientific opinion on the need to keep these high risk nanoparticles out of sunscreens,” said Friends of the Earth nanotechnology spokesperson Georgia Miller.

“Last year, there was shock in the international scientific community when BlueScope Steel revealed that photocatalytic nanoparticles commonly used in cleaning products and sewage treatment were being used in Australian sunscreens,” said Ms Miller.

“It is inexcusable that in the past 18 months the TGA has taken no action to get these high risk ingredients out of sunscreens”.

“The TGA has justified its failure to keep high-risk nanoparticles out of sunscreens by saying that there is no evidence that these nano-ingredients penetrate intact adult skin”.

“But when so little is known about skin penetration by nanoparticles in sunscreens, and when people with sunburnt or damaged skin could be more vulnerable to skin penetration, this approach is grossly irresponsible.”

“Europe has passed new laws that will make nanoparticles in sunscreens and cosmetics face mandatory safety testing and labelling. Australia should do the same.”

“Over the summer break, as millions of Australian families head to the beach, the TGA should put public health and consumer choice ahead of the interests of cowboy nanotechnology operators,” said Ms Miller.

Friends of the Earth Australia today releases its 2009-10 Safe Sunscreen Guide. The guide lists 25 nano-free sunscreen brands, including the Cancer Council, Invisible Zinc, Woolworths Select and others.

For comment: Georgia Miller 0437 979402