Today every child care centre in Australia (more than 10,000) will receive the new, summer 2010-11 Friends of the Earth Safe Sunscreen Guide. Senior scientists say that children may be at a higher risk of exposure to nanoparticles in sunscreens than adults because they have thinner skin. Despite industry calls for labelling earlier this year, the sunscreens regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, still refuses to label nano-ingredients in sunscreens or to make companies conduct safety assessments on them.

“Today Friends of the Earth is offering every child care centre in Australia the opportunity to make an informed sunscreen choice,” said Friends of The Earth nanotechnology spokesperson, Elena McMaster.

“While uncertainty persists about the safety of nano-sunscreens, and given that some have been shown to behave like extreme photocatalysts, many childcare centres will want to use nano-free sunscreens”.

“In Europe new laws will make companies label nano-ingredients in sunscreens and cosmetics, and test their safety before they can be used commercially. “But here in Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has its head in the sand.”

“Australian rates of skin cancer are higher than in Europe, and we rely on sunscreen from an early age to help protect us from sun damage.”

“It’s ridiculous that European consumers will be able to make informed sunscreen choices while we are left shopping in the dark.”

“In recent months, the Australian cosmetics industry has backed calls for mandatory labelling of nano-ingredients in sunscreens and cosmetics, adding its voice to calls from Choice, the Australian Consumers Association, the Cancer Council and various unions for mandatory labelling.”

“The TGA is out of step with industry, out of step with consumers groups, and out of step with international regulators.”

“It’s time Australians had a real choice about using nano-sunscreens,” said Ms. McMaster.