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Abich, italian CRO’s involved in the EU-fund SMART-NANO Project, technology platform for the measurement of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs)

3 May 2016

Nanotechnology is having an increasing impact in many industrial sectors and the use of nanoparticles is now widespread in an overwhelming number of fields, from paints, automotive components, consumer products (such as cosmetic sunscreens and anti-odorant) up to biology and medicine. It is estimated that 3 to 4 new products containing some form of nanomaterial enter the market every week and that by 2014 1.6 trillion Euros of manufactured goods will be based on nanotechnology. In response to the current increasing need for detection and analysis of nanoparticles, European industrials and academics have launched the EU-funded SMART-NANO project. The consortium’s leading purpose of developing a technology platform for the measurement of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) could be the key tool in assessing the fate and potential safety risks of ENPs for example in cosmetic products.

The SMART-NANO project precisely aims at developing an innovative, cost-effective technology platform that provides total solution “from sample-to-result” for the detection, identification, and measurement of engineered nanoparticles in a wide range of matrices, as explained in the section “Project”.

What kind of R&D technology programs are you developing?

We are involved in the Smartnano project, which is focused on the devel-opment of strategies for the detection and analysis of nanomaterials in con-sumer products (such as cosmetics) and environmental matrices.

However, we also develop analytical methods and in-house assay techniques for specific testing purposes. As an example, we recently developed an anti-pollution test performed on in vitro reconstructed epidermis and a mucoadhesion assay for medical devices.

What about the driving force that brought Abich into Smartnano?

As part of the 7th Framework Program, Smartnano gave us a unique op-portunity to interact and collaborate with a large group of European industri-als and academics, thus helping us to expand our field of interaction and our knowledge in the intriguing field of nanomaterials. Our role in the project is that of leader of the dissemination and communication of the results and we also play a key role in the development and validation of the analytical methods.


Is the use of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in sunscreens safe?

The increasing use of chemicals in the form of nanoparticles, the so-called nanomaterials, which are used as ingredients in a wide range of consumer products, has led the Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety (SCCS) to carry out a new assessment about the safety of a set of substances.

One of them is titanium dioxide (TiO2), a mineral UV-filter commonly used in the nanoscale (particles smaller than 100 nm in diameter) in sunscreen products. Some minerals, if used in this scale, become almost invisible, but still absorb UV radiation, with the added advantage of giving an increased protection and maintaining a far better texture and compliance in product application. Since the biological and toxicological behavior of nanoscale TiO2 showed to be different from the larger sized particles, there were concerns about the safety of this widely employed sunscreen and it use as UV filter was under discussion until 2008, when a new set of data was submitted to the SCCS.

The last revision of SCCS work (SCCS/1516/13 Revision of 22 April 2014 ) confirmed the safety of this component in his nano form to be used as an UV-filter, up to a maximum concentration of 25%. The revision however also established some limitations. The ingredient must not be used in formulations that could lead to inhalation, such as sprays or powder products, and the purity of the ingredient has to be ≥ 99%. Alternatively, in case of a lower purity percentage, the impurities must be demonstrated to be safe.

Titanium Dioxide is currently regulated – irrespectively of its form – as a UV-filter in a concentration up to 25% for cosmetic products in Annex VI, entry 27 of the Cosmetics EU regulation 1223/09.
The extended version of the opinion of SCCS is available here. However, it should be noted that the development of new assessment methods is an ongoing process, and we have to consider that the impact of titanium dioxide NPs released in the environment has not been evaluated completely yet.

Newsletter – Smartnano & Abich.

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