Nanotechnologies and nanomaterials are applied in consumer products. Examples of consumer products that are claimed to contain nanoparticles or produced using nanotechnology, are the use of titanium dioxide in sunscreens, cerium oxide nanoparticles in diesel for combustion improvement and antibacterial properties of silver nanoparticles in wound dressings, textiles or large appliances.

Inventories on nano in consumer products

Consumers are potentially exposed to nanomaterials during the use of nano-consumer products. Possible health effects of consumers of using nano-products are not known.
To reliably assess the exposure of consumers to nanomaterials in consumer products, it is important to know which consumer products contain nanomaterials. In 2007, RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment published its first nano-consumer product inventory for consumer products on the Dutch as well as European market (Dekkers et al, 2007). Recently, an update of this EU inventory has been published (Wijnhoven et al, 2010) in which a six fold increase of nano-consumer products on the European market has been reported. The product inventories are mainly based on products with a ‘nano claim’ provided by the manufacturer of the product. It is unclear if these products actually contain nanomaterial, therefore the products have to be further analysed (see measurements of nanomaterials in consumer products)

For a robust exposure assessment, additional exposure characteristics (Wijnhoven et al, 2009) are essential. Examples are characteristics and concentration of the nanomaterial in the product, but also the application of the product and exposure route.

Measurements of nanomaterials in consumer products

Together with MESA+, RIVM recently published a report describing orientating research on the detection of nanomaterials in various consumer products (Oomen et al, 2011). Twenty two consumer products were obtained and analyzed with microscopic techniques. RIKILT has analysed nanomaterials in various cosmetic products by the order of Stichting Natuur en Milieu (SNM). In addition, more studies have been published in which consumer products were analysed on the presence of nanomaterials, especially spray products with nanomaterials receive a lot of attention.

Nano and ConsExpo

Currently, RIVM is investigating whether consumer exposure to nanomaterials can be modelled by the conventional model ConsExpo, expecially for exposure to spray products. The project called “Predictive modelling of human exposure” is a national project in which various partners collaborate, like TNO, IVAM, UU-IRAS. For this Nanonext.Nl project, which is financed by STW and nVWA, two recent reviews have been published in which the current status of research groups, and publications in this area are described (Wijnhoven, 2011; Brasser and Wijnhoven, 2011).

Nano and REACH

In 2009, RIVM published a report in which the suitability of REACH in ensuring the safety of nanomaterials is investigated by conducting a hypothetical registration under REACH of metallic silver, a substance that exists both in nanoform and in non-nanoform (i.e. bulk form) (Pronk et al, 2009). In this report a complete (hypothetical) chemical safety assessment (CSA) is described for silver and nano-silver including consumer exposure.