Risks of nanoparticles in sunscreens

According to some scientists, nanoparticles used in sunscreens, cosmetics and hundreds of other consumer products could pose a risk to the environment by damaging beneficial microbes.

A study by researchers at the University of Toledo found that nano-scale titanium dioxide used in personal care products reduced the biological roles of bacteria after less than an hour of exposure. The results suggest that these particles, which end up in wastewater treatment plants when people shower, could kill microbes that play vital roles in ecosystems and help treat this wastewater.

Nanoscale titanium dioxide is used in many sunscreens and other personal care products to help block ultraviolet light that can lead to skin cancer, but this new report and other scientific research suggest that these features may come at an environmentally friendly price.

The researchers Cyndee Gruden and Olga Mileyeva-Biebesheimer added various amounts of nanoparticles to a water with bacteria. The bacteria were grown in a laboratory and marked with a green fluorescent.

The scientists observed significant damage to the cell walls of the bacteria after adding 10 and 100 milligrams per liter of the nanosubstance. Cell membranes changed from a fluorescent green color to a faint reddish glow, indicating damage. How quickly cell damage occurred was surprising, Gruden said.

Original article: Environmental Health News

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