Sunscreen is an important part of millions of Australians’ summer holidays. But there are growing fears that rather than protecting us from sun damage, some tiny ‘nanoparticle’ ingredients in sunscreen could actually make sun damage worse.

When exposed to UV light, some nanoparticles used in sunscreen produce free radicals that can damage DNA and cause cell toxicity.

Europe has passed new laws that will make sunscreen and cosmetics companies test the safety of nano-ingredients before using them in products, and label them as ‘nano’. However, Australia’s sunscreens regulator has yet to act.

“Sunscreens are an important part of the Australian way of life,” said Friends of the Earth’s spokesperson Georgia Miller.

“But some nano-sunscreens could pose safety risks. Rather than protecting our skin from the sun, nanoparticles could make sun damage worse.”

“That’s why Friends of the Earth is today releasing a sunscreen guide that lists 25 nano-free sunscreen brands, giving people a choice when they are buying sunscreen this holiday season.”

“We want to get the message out that people don’t have to take the nano-risk. Brands including the Cancer Council and Invisible Zinc, promoted by Elle Macpherson, offer clear, zinc based sunscreens that
don’t use nanoparticles”.

“Over the summer break, as millions of Australians head to the beach, we call again on the Therapeutic Goods Administration to bring in safety testing for nano-sunscreens, and labelling to give people a choice,” said Ms Miller