Sunscreens: with or without nano particles

A sunscreen without nano particles was recently forced to tone down its advertising claim that it was safer than alternative products which do contain nano particles.

In electronic media advertising the company stated that “Unlike most sunscreens Invisible Zinc is a physical barrier between you and the sun.” Online the ads went further, saying that Invisible Zinc was nano-free and that other sunscreens may contain harsh chemicals and potentially dangerous ingredients.

According to the Complaints Resolution Panel (a self-regulatory body charged with resolving complaints about the marketing of over the counter medicines and similar products) this implication was likely to cause ‘fear and distress’ in consumers. Some would think that the CRP ruling was a bit rich coming from a body that is a key part of a regulatory system that fails to get to grips with the extravagant claims made by some  pharmaceutical and alternative health products. Examples cited by CFA member Choice include anti-aging products dubious pharmacy productsweight loss products.

Nanotechnology spokesperson with Friends of the Earth, Elena McMaster, says the decision sets a dangerous precedent. “We’re concerned that this ruling will discourage other manufacturers from labelling as “not nano”.  We know that consumers want information about whether there are nanoparticles in their sunscreen and given that we don’t have mandatory labelling we think it’s very important that manufacturers are still able to voluntarily label.”

See these stories on the Age and the ABC  for more details on the CRP decision

CFA member Choice has in the past called for a “more effective responsive advertising complaints system which will deter breaches of the rules. This should include fines to deter repeat offenders and help fund a more responsive system.”

Meanwhile Standards Australia has two committees working on issues relevant to nano technology in sunscreens which include CFA representatives.


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