NGO calls on the FDA to ban anatase titanium dioxide in cosmetics

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

NGO calls on the FDA to ban anatase titanium dioxide in cosmetics
Friends of the Earth US and Australia are calling on the FDA to ban the use of a potentially hazardous form of anatase titanium dioxide in sunscreen and cosmetics.

This comes off the back of recent findings from tests carried out by the Australian Government’s National Measurement Institute whereby well-known brands such as Nivea, L'Oreal, and CoverGirl makeup were found to have contained anatase titanium dioxide.

Those sunscreen and cosmetics include Nivea Kid’s Swim and Play Sunscreen, L’Oreal Infallible Advanced Never Fail Make-up, CoverGirl Natureluxe Liquid Silk Foundation and Australis Powder Cream Make-up.

The product we are most concerned about is Nivea Kid’s Swim and Play sunscreen. This product was found to contain nanoparticles of anatase titanium dioxide, which are potentially more hazardous than the non-nano form of this common sunscreen ingredient​.”

Brands also sold in the US and other global markets

Despite FOE acknowledging that these products tested by NMI are sold in Australia, they say several of these brands are also sold in the United States and other global markets and therefore may use similar ingredients in their formulations.

We know that companies in the United States are incorporating nano-scale titanium dioxide in sunscreens and cosmetics, the question is, are they using it in anatase form​?” says Janet Nudelman, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Adding that; “We encourage the FDA to give this serious public health issue the attention it deserves. Moreover, all nano-scale ingredients need to be adequately tested for safety before being used​."

On the matter, Chief Scientist at the Personal Care Products Council, Halyna Breslawec told USA that sunscreens play a vital role in an overall safe sun regimen and that it stands behind the safety of nano materials that are used in sunscreen products.  

"The American Academy of Dermatology, The Skin Cancer Foundation, the FDA and the Personal Care Products Council all agree that sunscreens protect consumers from skin cancer and premature skin aging. FDA recognizes the importance of sunscreens and has evaluated the safety and effectiveness of sunscreen ingredients including nano Ti02,​" she stated.

Anatase titanium dioxide

According to FOE, recent peer reviewed studies have shown that the anatase form of titanium dioxide, found in sunscreens, is a potent photocatylist and can greatly increase the formation of free radicals when exposed to sunlight and water.

"Some skin cancers are linked to UV-induced free radical damage of DNA and skin cells, which is why wearing sunscreens with strong broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection is a good idea​."

Another study suggests differently...

A recent study conducted by a global team of researchers into the use of titanium dioxide in a variety of consumer products suggests that it is foods and not cosmetics that are the main focus for concern.

Headed by Paul Westerhoff, Phd, and published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science Technology, the study found that of the toothpastes, sunscreens and other crèmes containing titanium dioxide, shampoos, deodorants and shaving creams tested, levels of nano titanium dioxide were low.

To see that full study please see here​.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Skin Care

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