UK regulator calls for data on nanomaterials and suspected endocrine disruptors in cosmetics

By Julia Wray | Published: 16-Aug-2023

The country’s Office for Product Safety and Standards is asking for any scientific information relevant to both safety assessments

The UK is taking steps towards the safety assessment of certain cosmetic materials post-Brexit. 

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), an arm of the country’s Department for Business and Trade, has launched two calls for data on cosmetic nanomaterials and cosmetic ingredients that are suspected endocrine disruptors, respectively.

The OPSS is inviting interested parties, including academia, manufacturers of cosmetic products and raw materials, and consumer associations to submit any scientific information relevant to the safety assessment of several nanomaterials – or surface functionalised variants, alloys or other related variants – used in cosmetics.

These include nano-form platinum, copper, silver, colloidal silver, gold, colloidal gold, gold thioethylamino hyaluronic acid, silica, hydrated silica, silica silylate, silica dimethyl silylate, lithium magnesium sodium silicate and hydroxyapatite.

The deadline for information on nano-form silica, hydrated silica, silica silylate, silica dimethyl silylate is 27 June 2025, while all other substances have a deadline of 22 December 2023.

For endocrine disruptors, the list of chemicals of interest includes triclosan, triclocarban, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, salicylic acid, butylparaben and methylparaben, with a 15 December 2023 deadline for submission.

Relevant parties are encouraged to submit, by email, original study reports and literature in full for all data relied upon in the safety assessment.

They are also advised that the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group on Chemical Safety (SAG-CS) now uses 70kg as its default bodyweight assumption for adults in new safety assessments, which is considered representative for the UK adult population. 

The OPSS has indicated that – depending on the results of the scientific review – it will take necessary action to ensure the safety of consumers. 

This includes, but is not limited to “prohibiting or restricting specific ingredients if a risk to human health is identified”.

In cosmetics products, nanomaterials are insoluble or biopersistent and intentionally manufactured materials with one or more external dimensions (or an internal structure,)on the scale from 1nm to 100nm. 

They are subject to close scrutiny by regulatory authorities because of potential risks associated with their size.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, meanwhile, are natural or human-made chemicals that may mimic, block, or interfere with the body’s hormones.

Endocrine disruptors under scrutiny

The UK isn’t the only geography cracking down on potential endocrine disruptors at present. 

In June, the European Union added further limitations to Annex V of the EU Cosmetics Regulation for the preservatives triclocarban and triclosan – both of which are also included in the UK’s safety assessment data call-out. 

Expected to enter into force in the EU by the end of 2023, triclocarban will only be allowed in cosmetic products (except for mouthwash) up to a maximum concentration of 0.2%; triclosan will be banned in mouthwash; and toothpaste with triclocarban or triclosan will have to bear the warning ‘not to be used for children under six years of age’. 

From the date of enforcement, there will be an eight month period for new products placed on the market to company and a 17 month period for existing products on the market.

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