In what may be a world first, Australia’s national sunscreens regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has ordered a sunscreen company to stop advertising its product as “not nano”. The co-regulatory body of the TGA is not alleging that the label is misleading (ie that the product contains nanoparticles) but rather that advertising as “not nano” could cause “fear or distress” to consumers, and is therefore in breach of the advertising code. That is, the TGA is saying that labelling as “not nano” is illegal.

In addition to denying informed choice, this decision has serious safety implications. Dermatologists and public health experts warn that people with damaged skin, people who use sunscreen every day, and very young children should avoid wearing nano-sunscreens, as they are at greatest risk of nano-exposure. This requires labelling.

Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of skin cancer, and millions of us rely on sunscreen as part of our efforts to avoid the risk of skin cancer. At a time when European regulators have determined that their citizens deserve nano-specific safety testing and labelling for sunscreens and cosmetics, it is deeply disappointing that Australian regulators are rejecting calls for safety testing and acting to deny consumer choice.

For background on the ruling see the document attached.

For media coverage of the decision: