EU committee issues guidance on safety assessment of nanomaterials in cosmetics

The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has published guidance on the safety assessment of nanomaterials in cosmetics, such as UV filters in sunscreens. It outlines concerns that some nanomaterials can penetrate biological membrane barriers and insoluble or partially-soluble nanomaterials may be able to reach organs that are naturally protected from larger particles. The SCCS stresses the importance of detailed characterisation and identification of nanomaterials for risk assessment and recommends that data on particle size should be obtained by more than one method, including electron microscopy. Data on potential exposure to nanoparticles is critical and will “enable the first crucial decision in the overall risk assessment,” states the guidance. Such exposure assessment includes looking at the likelihood of nanomaterials crossing skin, lung, or gastrointestinal barriers. The SCCS considers that dermal and oral exposure to nanomaterials can be estimated using methods developed for “conventional” cosmetic ingredients. However, assumptions commonly used to estimate the skin’s absorption of conventional ingredients do not apply to nanomaterials. Dermal adsorption of nanomaterials will need to be determined experimentally, says the committee. When it comes to hazard identification, the SCCS voices concern that the 2013 total ban on in vivo testing of cosmetic ingredients and products poses an obstacle to the risk assessment of nanomaterial ingredients, thanks to a lack of alternative methods specifically validated for nanomaterials. A copy of the guidance document is available at: SCCS guidance document

Chemical Watch, 5 July 2012 ; ;