Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety
1. What is zinc oxide used for?
According to the European Union Risk Assessment Report (Reference: 44), zinc oxide is used in industrial settings as a rubber compounding material, and in glass and ceramic products. Zinc oxide acts as a catalyst in alkylation, oxidation, hydrogenation and desulphurisation reactions.
In paints, zinc oxide is mainly used as a corrosion inhibitor and to a lesser extent as a mildew control agent.
As zinc is an essential trace element, zinc oxide is added to fertilizers, animal feeds and human vitamin supplements. It is used in medical plasters, baby creams, calamine lotion and in dental cement (in combination with eugenol). Zinc oxide absorbs ultraviolet light, and is used as a UV-filter in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. No specific information on the uses of nano-sized ZnO is available.
ZnO is also used as colorant according to the Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC, Annex IV, but no information of ZnO particle sizes used in such applications is available, and it is not clear whether it contains a nanofraction.
The present submission applies for the use of ZnO nanomaterial as a UV-filter in cosmetic sunscreen products up to 25%.
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