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Sunscreens with Titanium Dioxide Nano-Particles: A Societal Experiment

By csep - Posted on 03 November 2010

TitleSunscreens with Titanium Dioxide Nano-Particles: A Societal Experiment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsJacobs, Johannes, van de Poel Ibo, and Osseweijer Patricia
Pagination103 - 113
Date Published08/2010
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Publication Languageeng
ISSN Number1871-4757

The risks of novel technologies, such as nano(bio)technology cannot be fully assessed due to the existing uncertainties surrounding their introduction into society. Consequently, the introduction of innovative technologies can be conceptualised as a societal experiment, which is a helpful approach to evaluate moral acceptability. This approach is illustrated with the marketing of sunscreens containing nano-sized titanium dioxide (TiO2) particles. The authors argue that the marketing of this TiO2 nanomaterial in UV protective cosmetics is ethically undesirable, since it violates four reasonable moral conditions for societal experimentation (absence of alternatives, controllability, limited informed consent, and continuing evaluation). To remedy the current way nano-sized TiO2 containing sunscreens are utilised, we suggest five complementing actions (closing the gap, setup monitoring tools, continuing review, designing for safety, and regulative improvements) so that its marketing can become more acceptable.