Recent research realized that nanoparticles found in cosmetics, sunscreens, and other personal-care products could be harming aquatic ecosystems– and maybe even you. When the products reach drain systems, they kill microorganisms that are crucial for maintaining healthy watersheds, the research indicates. Meanwhile, other researchers believe that not enough work has been accomplished for establishing the chemicals’ impact on human health.
Nanoparticles are miniscule particles that are often used in nanotechnology for the textile and microchip industries, and it might be used in medicine for certain ailments within the body. Unfortunately, the cosmetics and sunscreen industries are beginning to use nanoparticle ingredients for everyday products, and certain observers are worried that not enough is understood about their safety. “The FDA and EPA and other agencies are really not keeping up with the pace of the technology,” says Sonya Lunder, senior analyst with Environmental Working Group (EWG). “There’s a systematic failure to look at this issue and separate good uses from less-discerning ones, to get a handle on what’s going on with the technology.”
This issues started with sunscreen, as iron oxide and titanium dioxide ingredients are often seen in many sunscreens because of their strong UV ray-blocking abilities– not to mention the fact that they’re safer than ingredients believed to disrupt hormones, Lunder says. However, conventional iron oxide and titanium dioxide leave a white coating residue on the skin, which many people don’t like. The industry therefore responded by making smaller models of the ingredients, which help keep sunscreen’s transparency.
Makeup producers and anti-aging products are now bringing nanoparticles into their favorite formulas, despite the fact emerging data indicates that nanoparticles could bring about toxic health issues because of their ability to be absorbed into cells, declares Philip Landrigan, MD, professor and chair of community and preventative medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
Samuel Epstein, MD, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, further warns that skin absorption or even inhalation of cosmetics that carry these nanoparticles could make the particles gather within the body and bring about long-term toxic effects. “To date, it’s unclear whether the benefits of nanotech outweigh the risks associated with environmental release and exposure to nanoparticles,” concludes Cyndee Gruden, PhD, professor of civil engineering at the University of Toledo.
Because nanoparticles are a recent discovery, it’s difficult to estimate their long-term health implications– though animal studies have shown that they can have devastating health effects, despite little similar research having been conducted on humans. But while the safety of sunscreen nanoparticles needs to be a factor weighed against the importance of lower skin-cancer risk, many professionals argue that these small ingredients shouldn’t be in products like eye shadow, moisturizers, foundation, or powdered makeup.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
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