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Parliamentary questions
27 April 2012
E-004470/2012
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Oreste Rossi (EFD)

 Subject: Sunscreens harmful to health
 Answer(s) 

Sunscreens are important to protect the skin against damage caused by ultraviolet rays. Their use is essential to prevent some skin cancers such as basal cell and squamous cell epitheliomas, which are caused by exposure to the sun over a period of years.

Nevertheless, the presence of nanoparticles has raised doubts about the toxicity of some sunscreens. In particular, zinc oxide and dioxide, mineral substances which are frequently used in sunblocks, can penetrate human tissue through the keratinocytes in the skin.

The size of these substances has been reduced, in particular to enable the production of sun cream which is transparent on the skin and no longer pasty and white as it was in the past. The product's consistency could, however, cause damage to human health because these nanoparticles, which vary in size from 200 to 8 nanometres in diameter, could penetrate into the tissues and reach other organs.

At the moment, there are no certainties about the toxicity of these ingredients. An in-depth study on this issue is clearly necessary. Considering that the use of some nanoparticles with mineral ingredients has recently been limited at a European level, I would ask the Commission if it intends to safeguard the health of European citizens by shedding light on the toxicity of these substances and regulating their use in cosmetics and sunblocks.

Original language of question: ITOJ C 192 E, 03/07/2013
Last updated: 11 May 2012Legal notice