Buckyball face cream safety questioned in C&E News

Readers who know me personally know that I’m usually pro-free enterprise and pro-nanotech. But I was surprised to see on the market a face cream containing buckyballs, with little mention (either by the producer or in the press) of the obvious question of safety. The March 2006 Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report called such concerns “alarmist.”

Now, finally, we see a piece in Chemical & Engineering News by Bethany Halford raising this issue:

“I first learned about Zelens, which costs around $250 for a 30-mL jar, in late January at an international nanotoxicology meeting. Curious if a couple hundred nanotoxicology experts were as surprised about this product as I was, I asked the audience who among them would feel comfortable using this product. By a show of hands, fewer than 10 indicated that they would.”

The manufacturer says they have done safety studies. I will need to see them before recommending the use of this product. Very few cosmetics users realize how poorly cosmetics are regulated in the U.S.

Why does this matter, other than the obvious possible effects on users of this one product? Sooner or later there will be a “nanotech” product which is found to be unsafe. It would be better if it’s as “later” as possible — say, after a successful cancer treatment is approved — to avoid an over-reaction by the public against nanotech in general. —Christine

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