Manufacturer admits sunscreen ingredient is a nanomaterial

Antaria has admitted that its ZinClear-IM product is a nanomaterial, after denying this on the ASX and elsewhere.

The ABC’s PM reported on Antaria’s backflip yesterday, which followed a complaint in last August from the environmentalist group Friends of The Earth.

“A number of prominent brands have been misled by the company's claims and repeated these claims in their materials and on their product labels claiming that their products are non-nano,” Louise Sales, a nanotechnology project coordinator with Friends of The Earth, told PM.

The pressure group lodged a complaint with the stock exchange last August, reported by Manufacturers' Monthly and others, after EcoCert revoked nano-free certification of Antaria’s ZinClear IM in Europe and the company failed to tell the Australian market. ZinClear is used in a number of suncreens.

“Antaria Ltd has misrepresented to the market the nature of its principal product (ZinClear IM) which it manufactures and supplies to third parties in Australia and overseas for use in sunscreen applications,” read FOTE’s complaint last year.

Michael Moore, the CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia, backed the concerns about nanomaterials in sunscreen.

“What we need to do is make sure there is further research as to just how nano-particles work, how much they penetrate the skin, and what are their level of safety,” he told the ABC.

"In the meantime it seems to me the logical thing is to use the precautionary principle and to use non-nano sunscreen.”

Last week the Australian Workers Union said that it was also advising caution regarding exposure to nanomaterials.

"It may not be the case that nanotechnology's going to do that but what I fear is that it may, and we could be dealing with that type of asbestos-style issue in the future," said Paul Howes, the national secretary of the union.