Friday, February 26, 2010

Nano Zinc from Sunscreens Found in the Blood Stream by Australian Researchers

One area of concern is how nanoparticles impact human health and the environment. A Macquarie University project involves applying the stable isotopic method, developed and used by Professor Brian Gulson and Herbert Wong, to understand the impact of Zinc Oxide nanoparticles in human health. 

People who use a lot of sunscreen could be at risk of having "larger than normal" quantities of zinc in their bloodstream, with new evidence showing zinc particles penetrate the skin and are absorbed into the body, according to a report in the Australian.

Geochemist Brian Gulson, of Sydney's Macquarie University, has found the first conclusive evidence that zinc oxide nanoparticles - which appear in many translucent sunscreens - can be absorbed by the body and remain there for extended periods of time

New research from geochemist Brian Gulson, of Macquarie University, Australia, has shown that the skin can absorb and retain zinc oxide nanoparticles, which are found commonly in many sunscreens.

 The research was presented at the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology held in Sydney. While the study did not address the potential effects of zinc oxide nanoparticles on the body, research has shown that long-term exposure to high levels of zinc can slow enzymatic processes by causing copper deficiency.

Gulson’s study used "tracable" zinc oxide particles in a specially made sunscreen and tested this on a group of 20 participants, all of whom subsequently experienced elevated levels of zinc in their blood and urine. There are currently almost 400 sunscreens on the market in Australia that contain these nanoparticles and Gulson has urged cosmetics companies to create fewer products with nanoparticles in them.

Below are pictures that show the size change of Zinc Oxide from "big" particles to nanoparticles. Image Credit: Macquarie University

                      ZnO particles before treatment

ZnO particles before Treatment
ZnO after processing into nanoparticles
ZnO after processing into nanoparticles

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