As European legislation requiring the labelling and safety testing of nano-ingredients in sunscreen and cosmetics comes into force, Friends of the Earth is calling for similar regulation in Australia to ensure consumer safety and choice.

While the European scheme is not perfect, at least regulators there are attempting to assess the risks posed by nanomaterials and to protect consumer choice. In Australia the use of nano-ingredients in sunscreen and cosmetics remains unregulated.

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which regulates sunscreen products has so far rejected calls from the Cancer Council, the peak cosmetics industry body Accord, the peak consumers group Choice, health experts, unions, and community organisations for the mandatory labelling of nano-ingredients in sunscreens.

Our national chemical regulator NICNAS (1) which has oversight of cosmetics has also yet to introduce regulation for nano forms of existing chemicals.

Dermatologists and skin experts warn that people potentially most at risk from the use of nano-ingredients in sunscreen are those with thin or damaged skin, or people who wear sunscreen regularly. Labelling is needed to ensure that these people can avoid nano-ingredients in sunscreen if they want to.

It’s a sad indictment of our regulators that Europe is leading the way when it comes to regulating nano-ingredients in sunscreen, when Australia is the place where sun is such a fierce presence in everyone’s life. Australians should have the same right to know what is in the products they buy as Europeans.

Government polling released earlier this year demonstrates that the majority of Australians want nano-products labelled and safety tested.

(1) National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme