Consumers' close encounters with nanoparticles

Aug 10, 2011

The most personal encounter that many consumers have had so far with the much-heralded field of nanotechnology is the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine. Those encounters with fruits of the science of ultra-small particles — so tiny that 50,000 could fit across the width of a human hair — may come when sunbathers, golfers, bikers and others slather on sunscreen during these late summer days.

C&EN Associate Editor Lauren K. Wolf explains that some sunscreens incorporate a so-called "particle-based" approach to shielding people from the potentially harmful ultra-violet rays in sunlight. Those particles are made of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which produce longer-lasting protection and less skin irritation for individuals with sensitive skin. Sunscreens containing large particles give the skin a white, pasty look. In order to avoid that, some manufacturers use nano-sized particles.

The article describes controversy that has arisen over whether those particles can pass through the skin and have undesirable effects in the body. Wolf describes scientific evidence suggesting that sunscreens with these may have such effects, and conflicting evidence suggesting that they do not. The bottom line for now, according to the article, is to slather on that sunscreen, since the proven benefits in reducing the risk of skin cancer and premature aging, outweigh the theoretical risks.

Explore further: Scientists use nanoparticles to shut down mechanism that drives cancer growth

More information: "Scrutinizing Sunscreens" - pubs.acs.org/cen/science/89/8932sci2.html

Related Stories

Nanotechnology makes big inroads into construction industry

Jun 15, 2011

which deals with objects so tiny that thousands would fit inside the period at the end of this sentence — is having a big impact in the construction industry, according to the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & ...

Scientist Creates Sunscreen from Ivy

Aug 03, 2010

Drive through the University of Tennessee in Knoxville on a sunny day, and you may see a man on the side of the road pruning the English ivy.

Recommended for you

A stretchy mesh heater for sore muscles

Jul 03, 2015

If you suffer from chronic muscle pain a doctor will likely recommend for you to apply heat to the injury. But how do you effectively wrap that heat around a joint? Korean Scientists at the Center for Nanoparticle ...

Polymer mold makes perfect silicon nanostructures

Jul 03, 2015

Using molds to shape things is as old as humanity. In the Bronze Age, the copper-tin alloy was melted and cast into weapons in ceramic molds. Today, injection and extrusion molding shape hot liquids into ...

Better memory with faster lasers

Jul 02, 2015

DVDs and Blu-ray disks contain so-called phase-change materials that morph from one atomic state to another after being struck with pulses of laser light, with data "recorded" in those two atomic states. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.