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VeilleNanos - Our product tests

Our product tests

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Our product tests

By the AVICENN team – Last modification February 2023

Context and objectives

In the first half of 2021, IKEA withdrew from the market its new GUNRID “air purifier curtains”: our tests had shown the massive presence of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (suspected carcinogens for humans) on the surface of the fibers … and a lack of depolluting efficiency.

In September 2021, we decided to launch tests on about twenty everyday consumer products, with the primary objective of ascertaining the presence (or not) of nanoparticles of concern in everyday products.
Our approach was in line with the aim to make a concrete contribution to the 4th National Environmental Health Plan (PNSE 4) published in 2021, where action 13 aims in particular to:

Our approach

Our investigation took place over 15 months:

  • Between September and October 2021, we defined the criteria for product selection: products likely to contain nanoparticles with well-documented hazards, cause frequent/chronic exposure, be sold on a large scale, affect various populations, etc.
  • We then targeted specific products:
    • by soliciting our members and subscribers,
    • by carrying out documentary reviews (veillenanos.fr, the NanoDatabase, online sales sites > labeling, technical data sheets, SDS)
    • By scouting in supermarkets
    • By asking public authorities, research laboratories and brands
  • At the end of 2021 / beginning of 2022, we sent about 20 products to the National Laboratory of Metrology and Testing (LNE).
  • The tests were carried out between the end of 2021 and the end of August 2022 at LNE, with the final analysis report received mid-October 2022.
  • AVICENN published its report “In search of [nanos] in everyday products” on December 15, 2022. The tests reveal the presence of unlabeled, sometimes even unauthorized, nanos in 20 of the 23 everyday products tested:
Searching for nanos in everyday products, AVICENN December 2022

The results: nanos found in 20 products out of 23

Nanos have been detected in 20 products.

Results by product category

Results by type of nanoparticles

Key findings

More nanos than expected and some new questions…

We selected products that, although not labeled “nano”, were more likely than others to contain nanos. And yet we were surprised by the high proportion of products containing nanos as well as discovering some where we did not expect them.

These results raise questions about the extent of the use of nanos in everyday products and show the relevance – and even the necessity – of using the new tools available and innovative approached to look for nanos in commonly used items.

Assessment of the [nano] labeling: a complete failure!

The results show how eminently flawed the [nano] labeling is.

None of the products in which we have detected nanos were labeled [nano] even though most of them are covered by the European obligation of “nano” labeling, which has been in force for almost ten years for cosmetics, food products and biocides.

The presence of nanos in other product categories also underlines the need to extend the [nano] labeling obligation to product categories that are unfortunately still not currently concerned.

Many unauthorized nanos

Our tests have also highlighted, to an unsuspected extent, the fact that nanos are commonly used even though they are not authorized. This is particularly the case in cosmetics and hygiene and health products.

Summary of AVICENN’s requests

Because of the health and environmental risks associated with nanomaterials, AVICENN makes three requests at the end of the report:

1 – to improve knowledge and awareness of marketed nanomaterials, in particular by improving the French register (ten years after its creation, this register remains a real sieve) and the implementation of a European register of products containing nanos and to better evaluate their risks, by making the companies that import, produce or use them contribute to the analyses;

2 – increase transparency on these nanomaterials with, among other things, the intensification of controls and sanctions in case of non-compliance with legal obligations (whether it be labelling, registration, and/or authorization);

3 – and finally, increase vigilance with the introduction of a generalized obligation for an assessment of the benefit/risk ratio and collective utility of nanomaterials BEFORE they are put on the market and with the implementation of specific measures concerning nanos that escape the new European recommendation for the definition of the term “nanomaterial“. The announced transposition of the nanomaterial term into the regulations governing cosmetics and “novel foods” being under review, the risk is indeed great that many nanos could go off the radar of public authorities.

They talk about our investigation

In the media

At the National Assembly

Following our tests, four written questions were put to the government:

  • On December 27, 2022, in his question n°4492 written to the attention of the Minister of Health, the Renaissance deputy Guillaume Vuilletet invoked “the need to systematize the research and for a ban of nanoparticles in everyday products”. The MP believes that “the medium- and long-term health risks seem to be largely underestimated, especially in the case of chronic exposure to products containing several nanoparticles in large quantities, such as certain cosmetic products. Mr. Vuilletet further emphasized that “The precautionary principle is essential: consumer exposure to nanomaterials must be clearly limited until their safety has been demonstrated. He asked the Minister about his willingness to“intensify controls and sanctions for companies that do not comply with the labeling obligation and the relevance of implementing the recommendation of AVICENN, which proposes that manufacturers participate in the financing of independent research to better assess the risks associated with nanomaterials”.
  • Three other questions were subsequently asked by other members:
    • On January 31, 2023, in his written question n°5046, Renaissance Deputy Karl Olive has called for an assessment of “the current regulations and possible evolutions”.as well as “the means implemented by the Ministry and the Directorate of Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control to better control the use of these particles and in particular titanium dioxide” and the “means of informing the consumer about these nanoparticles via labelling in particular”.
    • On February 14, 2023, in her written question No. 5449, the deputy Horizons Agnes Carel also asked to know “what provisions are planned to better control the use of these particles and in particular titanium dioxide and better inform the consumer of their presence in the products they consume.
    • On February 21, 2023, in his written question n°5701, Renaissance MP Vincent Ledoux asked the government to “please tell him what he intends to implement in order to better control the presence of these nanoparticles in everyday products, which constitute a worrying public health problem”.

The report is available in both English and French

The English version of our report was released at the conference organized by the European NGO ECOS on February 15, 2023, entitled ” Unnoticed and ungoverned: How nanomaterials are slipping through the cracks ” (and relayed by One Policy Place – OPP).

Any questions or comments? This information sheet compiled by AVICENN is intended to be completed and updated. Please feel free to contribute.

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File originally created in January 2022


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