Brave New World

November 30, 2009

by Alissa Marrapodi , Associate Editor



Nanotechnology may very well be the “new age”. It’s demanding a lot of attention with its unknowns in safety, science, the body … and braving this new “nanoworld” is causing quite a stir. The standardized definition of nanotechnology is “the manipulation of particles at a size between 1 and 100 nanometers for the purposes of novel applications and benefits.”

But many still don’t have a clue about it. A national survey conducted by Hart Research Associates reported an increase in public awareness of nanotechnology, but still only equating to 7 out of 10 U.S. adults having not heard or learned a single thing about nanotechnology. Cosmetics and sunscreens are top nano categories, accounting for more than 600 products, according to The Woodrow Wilson Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN). And Frost & Sullivan credited nanotechnology for the recent boom in safer, nature-friendly ingredients in personal care products.

There are also those who are against or fearful of nanotechnology, and are hesitant to purchase products that use nanomaterials. The European Union (EU) has implemented laws making it mandatory for companies to clearly label the use of nanoparticles. As reported by EurActiv, countries such as Germany were worried a label highlighting the use of nanomaterials could be viewed as a warning to consumers, but the EU reassured that Germany’s cosmetics already pass strict safety tests so it shouldn’t be an issue.

But Australia adheres to a different set of standards—manufacturers are not required to admit to nanoparticles. In fact, Australian women, as reported by Friends of the Earth, are being used as what they are calling “Guinea pigs” because they are unaware of the many concealers and foundations that include nanoparticles in their formulations.

The future of this market is hard to predict, but the potential is there; and the more we know the less we fear (or so we hope).




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