Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety
1. What is zinc oxide used for?
Zinc oxide is a largely inert, white compound which is used very widely as a bulking agent or filler, and as a white pigment. It is found in some rubber, glass and ceramic products, and finds use in the chemical industry as a catalyst. It is also used in paints as a corrosion inhibitor and for mildew control.
Zinc is an essential trace element, and zinc oxide is added to fertilizers, animal feed, and vitamin supplements. It is also used in a many cosmetic and medical products and in toiletries, as it has antibacterial and deodorant properties. It is found in, for example, baby powder and anti-dandruff shampoos, in calamine lotion and in sticking plasters and dental cement.
Its strong absorption of ultra-violet (UV) light has led to its use in sunscreen lotions. It blocks both UVA (longer wavelength) and UVB (shorter wavelength) radiation, protecting against sunburn, skin damage and cancer.
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