Big questions about tiny particles
They're already proving useful but are the new, tiny miracle molecules safe? In the rush to commercialize there are unanswered questions, reports Rachel Ross (Toronto Star)
- Despite the uncertainty, a handful of
products that contain engineered nanoparticles are already on store
Inside every bottle of Oil Of Olay Complete UV Protection moisturizer is a little bit of nanotech. The Procter & Gamble product is one of many sunscreens that contain a nanoparticle known as microfine zinc oxide. Zinc has long been used as a sunscreen in larger form. It's effective, but certainly not for the vain: it stays white on skin. Make those particles nano-size and there's no more risk of embarrassing white marks.
But some researchers worry that the nanoparticle intended to protect the skin might actually damage DNA.
A July 2004 report commissioned by the British government cited studies that found microfine zinc oxide damaged cells in vitro.
Whether the nanoparticles are toxic to cells in a living body is still unknown. The report, written by the British Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, said more research was needed before the particle could be considered safe for use in cosmetics.
Procter & Gamble declined to answer questions about the product's safety.
Health Canada said it has not yet studied the issue. More here
Use of nanoscale sterols and sterol esters