Safer nanoparticles for safer sunscreens

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Zinc oxide nanoparticles are used in sunscreens to make them less opaque and more appealing to consumers. But the potential adverse health effects of using nanoparticles in these and other products have not been fully explored, according to Philip Demokritou, associate professor of aerosol physics at Harvard School of Public Health. There is mounting evidence that they display toxicity inside the human body, potentially even causing DNA damage.

Demokritou and his colleagues developed a method for generating safer nanoparticles that can be used in sunscreen without diminishing its UV-blocking properties. Their study was published online February 3, 2014 in Environmental Science: Nano.

Demokritou told ChemistryWorld that developing nanoparticles that cause less damage to the environment is crucial to the sustainability of the nanotechnology industry.