It’s the little things…

Posted by paula on Jul 6, 2009 in Health, Sustainable Parenting, Technology |

Parenting for the Future (the focus of this blog) is no easy thing.  It’s a challenge, a personal transformation and ultimately a lifestyle.  It requires the ability to remain positive in the face of a torrent of overwhelming information, and to go on, making small steps in the right direction. For your baby, for yourself, for the planet.

It seems I’m going to be “chemical girl” for a while.  Not my favourite thing, but this is so important.  Today’s topic is nano-technology.  This is mainly a “heads up” to say that it exists, and some specific action on sunscreens.

First up, before you do anything else, check whether your brand of baby sunscreen is safe, with the Friends of the Earth’s Safe Sunscreen Guide. And while we’re on the topic of FOE resources, you might like to check out their Consumers’ Guide to Biphesenol-A too.

The point about nano-tech is this: even though nano chemicals are known to behave differently from their non-nano counterparts, there is no regulation covering their development and application.  No safety testing is required.  In the case of zinc oxide, the active ingredient in sunscreens, the non-nano version is known to be safe and helpful.  The nano version, however, is thought to create free radicals when exposed to UV light, which will cause DNA and skin damage.

According to Friends of the Earth, nano technology:

  1. has unknown effects on humans;
  2. application is experiencing explosive growth;
  3. is unregulated;
  4. does not require safety testing.

It seems that our babies, right now, are set to become the Petri dish of the nano experiment.

Nano-applications available right now

  • Silver Nano in household appliances
  • Nano-zinc is used to make sunscreens transparent
  • Nano elements in high-tech clothing can make things wrinkle/spill/stain/smell-resistant

In fact there are thousands of different applications of nano-tech on the market — with no guarantees of safety testing on any of it.  Key areas to take an interest in are nano in food & packaging, clothing, personal care products and bedding.

Now I’m not saying that all nanotechnology is bad, but I am saying that its effects are largely unknown.  So for me, I’m going to take note of where I see it, and avoid it wherever possible.

This article has been edited, to remove the word “significant”.

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Kate Devitt
Jul 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm

“significant unknown effects on human”

That’s hilarious. Dear oh dear. Talk about fear-mongering without evidence.

“unknown effects” => yes
“significant unknown effects” => baseless by definition, because they are unknown!

[That being said, I had no idea nano-technology was so prevalent already. Good to know. Thanks]

Jul 7, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Thanks, Kate.
That was my bad paraphrasing, sorry 🙁

I struggled with words here, because even to say that something “has an unknown effect” is still grammatically off. I shrink from saying “potentially disastrous” because that sounds too spinelessly dramatic. But given that some colorful sources are comparing nano-tech to asbestos I wanted to convey a sense of seriousness.



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