Nanomaterial research & occupational health versus EHS in general – trend chart on the ICON blog

A chart released this week on the ICON blog  compares the volumetry of nanomaterial research publications of relevance to occupational health with that of nanotechnology environmental, health and safety (EHS)  research publications in general, among publications registered in ICON’s nanoEHS database. It was built using the Nano-EHS Database Analysis Tool available on the International Council On Nanotechnology (ICON) website. An adaptated version is published below, please visit this post on the ICON blog for the original chart, the context and the interesting comments.


Friends of the Earth new (short) report : “Manufactured nanomaterials and sunscreens : top reasons for precautions”

Friends of the Earth together with ICTA and Consumers Union released today a 10 page report entitled “Manufactured nanomaterials and sunscreens : top reasons for precautions“. According to them these reasons are :

– Nanomaterials are different from other conventionally-sized compounds

– In the body, nanomaterials have much greater access to vulnerable organs and tissues

– Increasing evidence that some nanomaterials can pass through the skin

– Senior scientists have called for mandatory premarket safety tests for nanomaterials before they are used in products

– Potential next generation harm from nanomaterials

– Potential harm to workers and the Environment

– Nanomaterials in sunscreens and cosmetics could theoretically cause skin damage over time

– Consumers can get highly effective transparent protection from harmful rays of the sun with products made without nanoscale chemical ingredients.

Further details are available in the document.

[[[ Additional links suggested by Nanocolors :

Nanotechnology & sunscreens – EWG’s 2009 investigation

# Nano-Sunscreens: Issue continues to be controversially discussed ]]]

Differential toxicity of carbon nanomaterials in fruit flies

According to a new study carried out on Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies and published in Environmental Science & Technology :

– Larval fruit flies showed no physical or reproductive effects from consuming carbon nanoparticles (fullerene C60, carbon black, or single-walled or multiwalled nanotubes) in their food, “despite evidence that the nanomaterials are taken up and become sequestered in tissue

– Carbon black and single-walled nanotubes in dry form “adhered extensively to fly surfaces, overwhelmed natural grooming mechanisms, and led to impaired locomotor function and mortality” of exposed adult flies within a few hours

– Fullerene and multi-walled nanotubes in dry form “adhered weakly, could be removed by grooming, and did not reduce locomotor function or survivorship” of adult flies.

The authors conclude “that these differences are primarily due to differences in nanomaterial superstructure, or aggregation state, and that the combination of adhesion and grooming can lead to active fly borne nanoparticle transport.”

[[[ Additional links suggested by Nanocolors :

# Carbon nanoparticles toxic to adult fruit flies but benign to young

# Nanoparticles & ecotoxicity in biomedical publications since 2000 ]]]

EPA draft report : “Nanomaterial case studies : nanoscale titanium dioxide in water treatment and in topical sunscreen”

The EPA released this July for review and public comment a draft version of a (rather huge) report entitled “Nanomaterial case studies : nanoscale titanium dioxide in water treatment and in topical sunscreen” (222 p).

According to the preamble (p 14) : ” (…) This document is a starting point to determine what is known and what needs to be known about selected nanomaterials as part of a process to identify and prioritize research to inform future assessments of the potential ecological and health implications of these materials. Two specific applications of nanoscale titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) are considered: as an agent for removing arsenic from drinking water and as an active ingredient in topical sunscreen. (…)

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Chapter 2 – Life cycle stages : “This chapter discusses the life cycle of nanoscale titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) as either a water treatment agent or an ingredient in topical sunscreen. Each stage in the life cycles of the respective applications is considered from the standpoint of potential releases to the environment.

Chapter 3 – Fate and transport : This chapter “explores what might happen to nanoscale titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) after it is released to the environment at various stages of the product life cycles for water treatment agents or topical sunscreens.

Chapter 4 – Exposure-dose characterization : “This chapter examines the potential for biota and humans to be exposed to nanoscale titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) and associated pollutants through various environmental pathways tracing back to the life cycle of two types of applications of nano-TiO2, water treatment agents and topical sunscreens.

Chapter 5 – Characterization of effects : “This chapter provides information on the factors that influence nano-TiO2 ecological and health effects (Section 5.1), the ecological effects of nano-TiO2 (Section 5.2), and the toxicological and human health effects of nano-TiO2 (Section 5.3).

As stated on the dedicated EPA web page, “each chapter includes a list of questions that reflect information gaps in that portion of the document. Some of these information gaps or research needs are specific to the respective uses of nano-TiO2 either as a water treatment agent or as an ingredient in topical sunscreen. Other research needs may apply more broadly to nano-TiO2 irrespective of its application, and still other needs may apply even more widely to nanomaterials in general.

[[[ Additional links suggested by Nanocolors :

# EPA report on the use of nanoscale TiO2 in water and sunscreens

# Nanotechnology & sunscreens – EWG’s 2009 investigation

# TiO2 nanoparticles in biomedical publications since 2000 

# Nanofiltration in patents since 2000 ]]]

Nanoparticles & ecotoxicity : volumetry in biomedical publications since 2000

This chart was built by searching PubMed for publications mentionning nanoparticles and ecotoxicity in their title or abstract.


Scope of the French public nanotech debate

According to the official document signed in late February 2009 (see also corresponding press release), the French public nanotech debate forecasted for next autumn will be focused on general orientations of development and regulation of nanotechnologies. The debate will be based on a benefit/risk analysis (especially health and environmental benefits and risks) of the various nanotech applications and aims at shedding light on the orientation of the French government action in the following fields :

– modalities of support to nanotech research and innovation

– characterization of exposure and assessment of  toxicity for humans and ecosystems, including the elaboration of systems of reference and tools for nanoparticle detection

– information and protection of workers at workplace

– organisation of control and monitoring, governance.

The document also mentions that given the global stakes of nanotech research and innovation in the field of manufactured nanomaterials and nanosystems, important coverage will be given to international and European aspects of these issues.

Nanotechnology & sunscreens – EWG’s 2009 investigation

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reviews the situation concerning nanoparticles in sunscreens in a dedicated section of its  2009 sunscreen guide, released today. I find particularly interesting this paragraph of their investigation’s contrasted conclusion : “When we began our sunscreen investigation at the Environmental Working Group, our researchers thought we would ultimately recommend against micronized and nano-sized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens. After all, no one has taken a more expansive and critical look than EWG at the use of nanoparticles in cosmetics and sunscreens, including the lack of definitive safety data and consumer information on these common new ingredients, and few substances more dramatically highlight gaps in our system of public health protections than the raw materials used in the burgeoning field of nanotechnology. But many months and nearly 400 peer-reviewed studies later, we find ourselves drawing a different conclusion, and recommending some sunscreens that may contain nano-sized ingredients“.

The Nanotechnology & Sunscreen section of the guide more precisely reviews the following issues :

* Safety concerns of nanoparticles

–> potential for human uptake of nanoparticles by skin absorption/penetration (for TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles)

–> dermal penetration of other nanoparticles

–> oral exposures to nanoscale zinc and titanium

–> inhalation exposures to nanoscale zinc and titanium

* Toxicity of nano-scale zinc and titanium

* Nano-scale zinc and titanium life-cycle and environmental risks

The Impact of nanoparticles section of the guide includes lists of titanium and zinc nanoparticle suppliers.

[[[ Additional links suggested by Nanocolors :

# Statement by John Bailey, Chief Scientist The Personal Care Products Council, Response to EWG’s 2009 Sunscreen Report

# ZnO nanoparticles in biomedical publications since 2000

# TiO2 nanoparticles in biomedical publications since 2000

# Industry critics give nanotechnology sunscreens the thumbs up ]]]