“Using specially developed nanocomplex”, “thermo-active Nano Exfoliating technology”, “based on nanoproteins”.... Cosmetic products containing nanomaterials are already widely available on the European market, for example in sun protection products, anti-aging creams... despite unanswered questions about their safety.
However, until now there were no laws at EU level which tackled the question of nanomaterials... For this reason BEUC welcomes as an important first step the regulation on cosmetic products adopted today by the European Parliament – for the first time, nanomaterials are addressed in EU legislation.
What does this mean for consumers across Europe?
Labelling & transparent information on nanomaterials
We are pleased that nanomaterials will now have to be clearly labelled in the list of ingredients of a product, meaning that consumers will be able to choose whether or not they wish to buy products that use this technology. A catalogue of all cosmetic products which contain nanomaterials will also be made public.
How is the safety of nanomaterials assessed?
Unfortunately, here there are some loopholes...The good news is that when nanomaterials are used for the certain specific purposes (colourings, preservatives or as a UV filter), their safety will have to be evaluated before they are allowed onto the market.
However, there are hundreds of other uses of nanomaterials in cosmetic products, which will not be covered by this measure. Here, manufacturers will merely have to inform the Commission that nanomaterials are used. This is not enough to ensure consumer safety. We want a compulsory assessment of the safety of all nanomaterials in cosmetic products before they are allowed onto the market.
But hang on - what exactly are nanomaterials?
One of the main problems with nanomaterials is that until now, there has been no widely agreed, international definition, making it impossible to make laws on their safety. Under the new regulation there is for the first time a legislative definition of nanomaterials – another step in the right direction.
Unfortunately it only covers biopersistent and insoluble nanomaterials – meaning that all other cosmetic products containing nanomaterials, which may or may not be safe for consumers, will be put on the market without any evaluation of their safety!
How long before the new rules take effect?
We regret that the safety requirements will only start in 2012 - giving manufacturers three years to market new cosmetic products containing potentially unsafe nanomaterials, which will remain unchecked! It also means that the products consumers are using now will not have to be evaluated…
“We are pleased that our campaigning on nanomaterials has finally reaped some rewards. However, this is just the beginning of the road: nanomaterials are not only found in cosmetic products but in food, medicines... We urge decision makers to use this legislation as an inspiration to address nanomaterials in other consumer products, such as novel foods”, stated Monique Goyens, BEUC Director General.