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Public Health (03-03-2008)

Revision of risk-assessment methods needed to evaluate potential risks in the use of certain Nanomaterials in cosmetic products

In order to properly assess the potential risk of insoluble and/or biopersistent nanomaterials used in cosmetics either new risk-assessment methods have to be developed or the existing ones have to be improved, an EU scientific committee concludes.
In its opinion on The Safety of Nanomaterials in Cosmetic Products (, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) distinguishes between soluble and/or biodegradable nanoparticles, and insoluble and/or biopersistent nanoparticles. Conventional risk assessment methodologies may be adequate for the former. However, for the latter a detailed characterisation of chemical and physical properties, e.g. particle size and number and surface characteristics, is needed in addition to the standard mass concentration. The SCCP considers that the risk assessment of nanoparticles in cosmetics should then be carried out on a case-by-case basis taking into account these specific properties. It recommends that either existing methodologies for hazard characterisation and exposure assessment should be optimised and validated for nanomaterials or new methods suitable for testing of nanomaterials should be developed. The SCCP notes that it is primarily for the insoluble particles that health concerns, related to possible uptake through the skin, arise and calls for the urgent development of new methodologies to assess skin penetration.
Existing safety evaluations on cosmetic ingredients, which can exist in nano-sized forms, would also need to be extended to cover these forms.
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