Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

The same day our magazine feature article “Tiny Toxins” appeared this week, Friends of the Earth released a report detailing the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics and sunscreens. The recommendation of the environmental group:

“a moratorium on further commercial release of personal care products that contain engineered nanomaterials, and the withdrawal of such products currently on the market until adequate, publicly available, independent peer-reviewed safety studies have been completed. Friends of the Earth further recommends that adequate regulations be put in place to protect the general public, workers manufacturing these products, and the environment.”

As our feature explains, FoE just might have a point. Just like any other new type of materials used in consumer products, nanoparticles in cosmetics should be adequately tested. And they haven’t been, despite calls for years from a number of those in the nanotech research community.

The problem, of course, is that the ultra-fine particles used in cosmetics and sunscreens are not really nanotechnology, despite what the product marketing might say. From a technology perspective they have little to do with the nanoelectronics, nano biosensors, and nano-based solar cells that are the real promise of nanotech. But by latching onto “nano” as a way to market new formulations of cosmetics and sunscreens, manufacturers have presented these ultra-fine particles as the face of nanotech. Now the rest of the nanotech community needs to worry about the repercussions.

12 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Materials

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me