August 10, 2011
Consumers’ Close Encounters With Nanoparticles
The most personal encounter that many consumers have had so far with the much-heralded field of nanotechnology is the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine. Those encounters with fruits of the science of ultra-small particles "” so tiny that 50,000 could fit across the width of a human hair "” may come when sunbathers, golfers, bikers and others slather on sunscreen during these late summer days.
C&EN Associate Editor Lauren K. Wolf explains that some sunscreens incorporate a so-called "particle-based" approach to shielding people from the potentially harmful ultra-violet rays in sunlight. Those particles are made of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which produce longer-lasting protection and less skin irritation for individuals with sensitive skin. Sunscreens containing large particles give the skin a white, pasty look. In order to avoid that, some manufacturers use nano-sized particles.
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