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Australian sunscreen ingredient maker attacked over nano-free claims

By Simon Pitman , 30-Aug-2012

Australia-based sunscreen ingredient maker Antaria has been challenged by environmental group Friends of the Earth over the company’s claims that its products are free of nano materials.

Friends of the Earth has lodged a complaint with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) over claims that Antaria has violated the Corporations Act, which binds the company to be transparent about the way it does business.

The move by Friends of the Earth is the latest development in a story that started earlier on in the year when the group raised a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about its alleged use of nano materials in its sunscreen ingredients.

This complaint, which was made back in July, was firmly rejected by Antaria.

Friends of the Earth takes complaint further

Unwilling to accept the company’s reaction to the complaint, Friends of the Earth decided to take the action further, stating in the most recent complaint to the ASX over its ZinClear IM zinc oxide based ingredient.

ZinClear IM is marketed as a micron-sized zinc oxide powder for sunscreen formulations and the company claims that the powder consists of a non-nano particle size that has been Ecocert accredited.

However, the controversy arose after Ecocert suspended its accreditation of ZinClear IM because the company was unable provide sufficient evidence that the product did not contain nano particles.

Has Antaria mispresented the nature of the product?

"The basis of the complaint is that Antaria Ltd has misrepresented to the market the nature of its principal product [ZinClear IM], which it manufactures and supplies to third parties in Australia and overseas for use in sunscreen applications, and has not disclosed important price-sensitive information to the ASX in a timely manner," Friends of the Earth said in its complaint to the ASX.

Friends of the Earth has long been campaigning about the possible dangers of nano-based sunscreen formulations, by pointing out that there are potentials dangers posed by the fact that such formulations can penetrate all the way through the skin barrier.

Nanomaterials have also been criticised for their environmentally unfriendly characteristics, with Friends of the Earth stating that the production of such ingredients is highly energy intensive.

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