lunes, 6 de abril de 2009

MEPs back new rules on nanomaterials in cosmetics

The European Parliament updated on 24 March a legislation on cosmetics to take account of advances in nanotechnology. Reactions to the news have been mixed, with consumer groups urging earlier implementation of the proposal and Green MEPs unhappy with the definition of nanomaterials.
The last time the European Parliament dealt with the safety of cosmetics was under the 2003 Cosmetics Directive . At that time, MEPs successfully pushed for a ban on the sales of any animal-tested products and ingredients.
One of the motivations for updating the regulations was to take account of advances in nanotechnology, which has developed rapidly in recent years.
Nanomaterials are now used in sunscreen and other products, leading consumer groups to complain that legislation has been slow to keep up with the pace of development of products which are now on the market.
A new safety assessment procedure for all products containing nanomaterials will be part of the regulations, which could lead to a ban on a substance deemed to pose a threat to human health.
Any nanomaterials present in cosmetics must be mentioned in the list of ingredients on the product's packaging.
The European Commission estimates that nanomaterials are now used in around 5% of the cosmetic products - including sunscreen, lipsticks and anti-ageing creams - that are already on the market.
The definition of nanomaterials incorporated into the text will be adapted by the European Commission in line with emerging information arising from scientific and technological research.
The legislation defines a nanomaterial as "an insoluble or bioresistant and intentionally manufactured material with one or more external dimensions, or an internal structure, on the scale from 1 to 100 nm".
A majority of 633 MEPs voted in favour of the compromise regulation, with 29 voting against and 11 members abstaining.
European consumers' organisation BEUC offered a cautious welcome for the compromise deal, saying the clauses guaranteeing more information on packaging would help consumers make informed choices.
However, it expressed concern that some products already on the market would not be subject to safety testing and the regulation will not come into force until 2012.
It described the definition of nanomaterials as "another step in the right direction," but lamented the fact that it only covers biopersistent and insoluble nanomaterials.
"The good news is that when nanomaterials are used for the certain specific purposes, such as 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," BEUC said in a statement.
It called for compulsory assessment of the safety of all nanomaterials in cosmetic products before they are allowed on the market.
Green MEPs Hiltrud Breyer (DE) and Margrete Auken (DK) issued a joint statement after the vote welcoming the legislation but expressing dissatisfaction with the scope of the definition of nanomaterials. They called on the Commission to revise this in line with existing international definitions.

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