February 1, 2009

The Irresponsibility of nanoproduct releases

Burt Bees, "natural product" with nano titanium dioxide.
Natural....right? Safe right?

The consumer product industry has blazed ahead with applications of nanotechnology - they are in the supermarkets right now. There are pathetic gaps in definitions and testing to assure the safety of nanoparticulates that are being foisted, unlabeled, upon us in packaging, in food sprays, in nanoencapsulated nutrients. Where is the controversy? Is protection of the population something the Government has given over to Industry and proving its safety in the courts will become the citizen's recourse? Because its hidden in the slumber of ignorance we don't know what we are eating, wearing or spreading on our bodies. And we may not soon enough.

What is the status of the recommendations from the 2006 The Institute of Food Science & Technology: PDF
"the products of this technology should be considered more deeply by legislative and safety committees. At present, it is considered legal to sell such materials for use in foods, based on the clearance data for the macroscopic material and the level of detail that may form part of any related product purity specification. Furthermore, if food technologists consider that they are simply reformulating foods formed from the same ingredients, then it is unlikely that they will feel obliged to seek new toxicological advice or clearance for the final product. Given that there is no requirement to label foods containing nanoparticles, then consumers are unlikely to be aware of such applications in foods".

"While the regulatory agencies may be making these efforts a little late, because some products are already available and development has been started on many more, we can hope that current discussions will help consumers to benefit from improved and safe food products with a minimum of controversy".

Some groups are attempting to hault the flood of products with nanosilver "filing a legal petition with EPA demanding that the agency use its pesticide regulation authority to stop the sale of numerous consumer products now using nano-sized versions of silver, called nano-silver". Also here.

Should consumers have to battle in the courts, with each dangerous nanosubstance/ nanoparticle? Governments need to stop licensing new products and remove existing ones until such time as their saftey is proven. Why is there no common sense in governance?

Nano particles Without Macroproblems
By Barbara Karn and H. Scott Matthews
Little by little, nanotechnology has crept up on us. From a mostly academic exercise 20 years ago, it has swiftly progressed to the point where the technology is just about everywhere: in fact, there may very well be engineered nanomaterials in the clothes you’re wearing at this very moment. If they were sold to you as wrinkle-free or stainproof, the fibers were almost certainly treated with nanotech processes that stave off stains and creases.
More than 500 products on the market today incorporate some kind of nanotechnology.
Read this article


Eva said...

Thanks for the heads up on this. I guess even more careful label reading is called for. Do you know if nano products always are labeled as such or can they be called "silver"?

anne said...

Labeling is not required for nano that I know of. Titanium dioxide in Burt Bees's sunscreen for eg, is not labeled as nano particulate.

Laz said...

There have a number of studies that have shown that nanoparticles and Titanium Dioxide do not penetrate the outer layer of the skin. I agree that this area of technology is in dire need of legislation, but the Burts Bees is fine!

anne said...

Hey Laz, do you have a link for those studies. Here is a page that lists a large number of studies indicating nano TO2 toxicity.