Tag Archives: nanocosmetics

Nanotech cosmetics and beauty products labelling; scientists in Japan worried about research cuts; gender imbalance in European science researcher community; nano game;

I mentioned the new European nano labeling regulation cosmetics and beauty products earlier this week (Nov.24.09) in the context of Germany’s resistance to it. Now officially passed(from the news item on Nanowerk),

The nanoparticle decree is part of a new 397-page cosmetics regulation approved on 20 November by the Council of the European Union, which includes ministers from all EU nations and is the EU’s main decision-making body. The cosmetic regulation states that all ingredients present in the product in the form of nanomaterials should be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients, by inserting the word ‘nano’ in brackets after the ingredient listing. The ruling defines nanomaterial as ‘an insoluble or biopersistant and intentionally manufactured material with one or more external dimensions, or an internal structure, on the scale from 1 to 100 nm’.

Now I wonder how  long before we start hearing demands for similar product labeling in the US, Canada, and Australia? As for failing to mention other countries,  I haven’t come across any health and safety or environmental discussions in other countries but I only search English language materials so I’m not likely to find something written in Spanish, Chinese, etc.

More cuts to  scientific research and, this time, in Japan. From the news item on physorg.com,

Top Japanese scientists, including four Nobel laureates, have criticised the new government for plans to slash research budgets, warning the country will loose its high-tech edge.

“The panel’s approach of judging science purely from a cost perspective completely lacks vision,” said 2001 Nobel Chemistry prize winner Ryoji Noyori. “I wonder if the panelists are ready to face the judgement of history.”

Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka, a pioneer of embryonic stem cell research, told reporters: “I am deeply concerned about the development, which is just beyond my imagination.”

“You cannot predict achievements, that’s science,” he said. “I’m worried about Japan’s future.”

It certainly sounds familiar and it seems as if there is a fad sweeping governments ’round the world as they cut back on science funding and/or focus on the short term goal of realizing financial benefits in the immediately foreseeable future. The only exception, the US, seems to be holding firm to a commitment to basic science. If you know of any other countries doing so, please do let me know.

In the three years I’ve been tracking nanotechnology research I’ve noticed that female researchers are few and far between. During a research project in 2007, I asked one of the few I’d come across about my observation and ran into a metaphorical stone wall (she really didn’t want to talk about it). Apparently this dearth of female nanotechnology researchers is a reflection of a larger issue. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Despite a rise in their numbers, female scientific researchers remain a minority, accounting for just 30% of all scientific researchers in Europe. Furthermore, the more senior positions in science and research are still heavily dominated by men. These are some of the main findings in the latest ‘She Figures’, statistics on women in science in Europe which are produced every three years by the European Commission and the Helsinki Group on Women and Science. ‘While some trends are positive, the fact that women remain underrepresented in scientific careers should be a worry for all of us,’ commented European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potocnik. ‘This gender imbalance in science is a waste of opportunity and talent which Europe cannot afford.’

I realize this is a European report but I think it reflects the international situation and, point well taken, it “is a waste of opportunity and talent.”

For a complete change of pace: Nanovor is a new game for 7 to 12 year olds. Yes, it’s all about nano. I find the storyline a bit strange, from the news item on Nanowerk,

Nanovor is based in a rich fictional world where nanoscopic monsters, known as Nanovor live and battle inside computers. These nanoscopic dust mites ruled our still-molten Earth, long before any other species could survive. As Earth cooled and the atmosphere became oxygen-rich, the silicon-based Nanovor slipped into deep hibernation for billions of years. In 1958, when silicon was embedded within a computer chip and electricity pulsed through it for the very first time, the Nanovor sprung back to life.

The business model reminds me of the sticker craze that one of my nieces participated in when she was about 7 or 8 years old. She started collecting stickers to put into books. New themes for stickers and their books were constantly being added to the product line and she was always trying to catch up. This game which can be downloaded free has booster packs (additional nanovors) that can be purchased.  If the game becomes popular, the booster packs (the equivalent of a new sticker theme) will become essential to playing the game.

There is a video about the game at the link to Nanowerk that I’ve provided. After viewing the video I’d say the game does seems a bit male dominated especially when you go to the game’s website and look up the main characters: Lucas, Mr. Sapphire, and Drew (female) who are listed in that order here but it is early days and these things can change over time.  The company producing the game is called, Smith & Tinker, and their tag line is: Reinventing play for the connected generation.

Happy weekend!

Nanocosmetics, interactive maps, Norway’s nanomaterials reporting initiative, and a little dash of poetry

I found a new nano website this week for a group called the Nanotechnology Citizen Engagement Organization, located in Wisconsin, US. I was directed to their nanocosmetics page by a local (Vancouver, BC-based) hairdresser and salon owner, Urs Eichenberger. He’s found what looks to be an excellent site if you’re interested in researching potential nanomaterials risks. The nanocosmetics page provides an overview which they seem to keep up-to-date. The article they list on zinc oxide particles (found in sun screens and other products) damaging mouse stem cells shows that these particles can pose a danger and more research is needed.

Urs has long followed  the nanocosmetics and beauty products debates in Europe and has adopted a precautionary principle with regard to his own product lines. In short, none of the products that he uses or sells at his Vancouver salon Strands have any nanomaterials. If you’re interested, you can find Strands hair salon website here or you can follow Urs on Twitter here.

Courtesy of Rob Annan, I’ve found an interactive map for Knowledge Infrastructure Projects across Canada. (The map is still being developed by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada so you may notice a few errors or inconsistencies.)  A visual representation of where the funding has been or is being distributed across Canada, the map is in keeping with this week’s theme about both visualizing information and adopting more multimodal means of conveying it.

The government of Norway has just announced a reporting scheme for companies using nanomaterials. From the media release on Nanowerk News,

The scheme is not strictly mandatory. …
First, it is unclear what should be regarded a nanomaterial. One example is nanoparticles manufactured from natural minerals. A company can then assume that the nanoparticles are equal to the mother substance, and do not reward special attention or a new entry to the Product Register.
A legal commitment to declare a product arises only if a significant risk has been identified. Few nanomaterials will qualify under this criterion in the short term.

This reminds me a little of the Environment Canada initiative which requires a one time only mandatory report from companies. I posted about this initiative Feb.3, 2009 here. The Canadian plan is not about risks per se but seems to be an attempt to establish an inventory of companies and the nanomaterials currently in use. I haven’t heard about the Environment Canada initiative since, has anyone else? Please do let me know. The Norway plan is related to other nanotechnology initiatives taking place in Europe which is discussed further in the media release.

At last, the poetry. Heather Haley (yes if you go to her site, she really is that gorgeous) is going to be featured in a writer’s event on Bowen Island near Vancouver, BC. Details:

AURAL Heather @ the Write On Bowen Festival

AURAL Heather @ the Write On Bowen Festival
AURAL Heather is the new weather, a unique, sublime fusion of song and spoken word by firey iconoclast-poet-vocalist Heather Haley and dazzling guitarist-producer, Roderick Shoolbraid.
Friday, July 10, 2009
7:30pm – 11:00pm
Cates Hill Chapel
Bowen Island, BC

Bowen Island has been inspiring writers for almost a century. Maybe it’s the beautiful natural surroundings or maybe it’s the welcoming community that gets the creative juices flowing. Either way (or both!), Bowen Island is the place to be for aspiring and experienced writers on the weekend of July 10 to 12. Come spend the day or the whole weekend! All you need to bring is your notebook and your imagination!

Get here the fast, easy and fun way, on the Bowen Express from Granville Island:
Sponsored by the Bowen Island Arts Council, Write on Bowen! kicks off at 7:30pm on Friday, July 10 at Cates Hill Chapel with an intense and exciting evening of readings and performances featuring Bowen’s own Spider Robinson, Pauline LeBel, AURAL Heather (with Heather Haley and Roderick Shoolbraid), Keath Fraser, Susanna Braund, and Nick Faragher.
Bowen Island Arts Council

Have a nice weekend!