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Science

New Nanoparticle Sunblock Is Stronger and Safer, Scientists Say 114

sciencehabit writes: What's the best sunscreen? It's a question that troubles beachgoers, athletes, and scientists alike. Mark Saltzman, who falls into the last category, was so concerned by the time his third child was born that he wanted to engineer a better sunblock. "The initial goal was to make a sunblock that lasted longer," says Saltzman, a biomedical engineer at Yale University. "But as I read more about sunscreen, I became aware of people's concerns about safety." Now, he and his colleagues have unveiled the results of their research: a nanoparticle-based sunblock, which they say is longer lasting and less likely to leak into the body than traditional sunscreen.
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New Nanoparticle Sunblock Is Stronger and Safer, Scientists Say

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  • by SomeoneFromBelgium ( 3420851 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @02:16AM (#50618159)

    ... or not (blocked)

  • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @02:20AM (#50618171)

    It's been around for a while. It has the block power of zinc oxide without being white.

    http://ec.europa.eu/health/sci... [europa.eu]

    This article is not clear about which nanoparticles they are using, but we already have effective sunblocks using nanoparticles.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, the important point seemed to be the bio-adhesive properties of these particular nano-particles, not the fact that they are nano-particles. As usual, the actual news bit was missing from the slashdot summary. The article is talking about encapsulating a UV blocker (Padimate O in this case) inside bioadhesive nanoparticles. The bioadhesive properties of the nanoparticles and the encapsulation of the UV blocking molecules serves to limit unwanted absorbtion of the compounds, and keep them on the surface

  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @02:34AM (#50618201)
    What's wrong with titanium dioxide again?
    • by WarJolt ( 990309 )

      I think as long as you don't eat it you should be fine.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except it is used as white food coloring. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium_dioxide

      • by Anonymous Coward

        TiO2 is in plenty of foods.

      • Then why to they make it in paste form?

        • Hmmm ... they make epoxy and etching compound in paste form ... are you suggesting you're a child and will eat all forms of paste?

          Sounds like a self correcting problem.

      • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @04:21AM (#50618471)

        Titanium Dioxide is a common additive as white colouring in foodstuffs such as cookies and candy. For instance, it is sometimes used to make sugar glazing on German lebkuchen cookies whiter.
        In Europe it is often in ingredients lists under the number E-171 rather than its full name.

        Titanium Dioxide is one of the pigments that are suspected of leaking into the body, both from food and from its use in sunscreen.
        Therefore, it is something that I look for and avoid.

        • I thought we needed 8 essential minerals + Titanium in our breakfast serials -- has this changed? It's the other white mineral, after all. Like Turkey but without the additives of meat.

        • Therefore, it is something that I look for and avoid.

          Lots of things leak into the body. Why is it that specifically this one should be avoided if it's considered safe to eat?

    • Nothing, if you don't mind covering yourself in thick white paint. In nano-particle form it is less unsightly, but there are concerns about the health effects of nano-particles. Their small size gives them a high proportion of broken or strained chemical bonds, which can work as a chemical catalyst. There is concern that nano-sized particles could enter cells, and their reactivity could lead to DNA damage. Given the cumulative nature of such damage, and the long time scale for the effects to become appa
      • If you really don't want the sun on your skin, why not just wear some, you know, clothes?
        • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
          If you really don't want the sun on your skin, why not just wear some, you know, clothes?

          I take it you've never suffered a sunburn bad enough to make your skin peel off, through clothes and while trying to stay in the shade most of the time?

    • Inhalation of dried nano-TiO2 and nano-zinc oxide containing sunscreen apparently causes undesirable effects. Link: http://www.nicnas.gov.au/commu... [nicnas.gov.au]
  • Best sunscreen... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by glaciator ( 1435955 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @03:06AM (#50618287)
    ...is plant fiber, twisted into strings and tightly woven. AKA clothes. White cotton or linen, preferably. Ask the desert people their opinion about nanoparticles.
    • Re:Best sunscreen... (Score:4, Informative)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @04:19AM (#50618465) Homepage

      Works great at the beach.

      • Not sure if that was sarcastic, but OP is correct (with the addition of synthetic materials). I live by the ocean where the UV index is almost always extreme. Rash guards/wetsuits can cover most of your body and really are the best way to protect against the sun if you spend any amount of time in the water. It doesn't wash off and you don't miss spots (it's also it's better for the environment for those that care about it).
        • Not sure if that was sarcastic, but OP is correct (with the addition of synthetic materials). I live by the ocean where the UV index is almost always extreme. Rash guards/wetsuits can cover most of your body and really are the best way to protect against the sun if you spend any amount of time in the water. It doesn't wash off and you don't miss spots (it's also it's better for the environment for those that care about it).

          The first places to burn on me are my nose, cheeks, ears, and back of the neck, in that order. The stuff typically covered by clothes are usually just fine.
          A wide brim hat might help a little but really doesn't work well when you are swimming. I hate sunscreen especially on the face but clothing really doesn't
          work well on the face. I'm pretty sure everyone hates sunscreen and we really need to come up with a better solution.
          My suggestions to get us started are:
          1) an umbrella drone

          • You are asking for a hat.
            Alternatively, longer hair and a light beard will cover every one of your problem areas but your nose.

            • OR . . . . I can just wipe on some inexpensive lotion for the times when I'm in the sun rather than put up with uncomfortable lengths of hair all the time.

          • The first places to burn on me are my nose, cheeks, ears, and back of the neck, in that order. The stuff typically covered by clothes are usually just fine. A wide brim hat might help a little but really doesn't work well when you are swimming. I hate sunscreen especially on the face but clothing really doesn't work well on the face.

            Australian scientists have tested wide brim hats and they give an effective sun protection factor of about 5. The fabric itself has an SPF in the hundreds but reflections off glass and pavements and atmospheric refraction of UV, plus the user looking up and around from time to time give added exposure to the face and neck.

        • by trawg ( 308495 )

          Not sure if that was sarcastic, but OP is correct (with the addition of synthetic materials). I live by the ocean where the UV index is almost always extreme. Rash guards/wetsuits can cover most of your body and really are the best way to protect against the sun if you spend any amount of time in the water. It doesn't wash off and you don't miss spots (it's also it's better for the environment for those that care about it).

          Rashies are very common in Australia at the beach (I wear one any time I go into water at all because it's so much easier than sunscreening my body).

          For summer sports though they're not really an option. Cricket is manageable; you can wear long sleeves and pants and hats and be covered. But for more active sports (e.g., I play soccer) wearing long clothes is very uncomfortable.

          I've been in the US for most of summer and play soccer several times a week during the day so have become more familiar with local

        • Of course OP is correct. But the whole purpose of sunscreen is that we don't need to wear cloths. Bikinis have been getting smaller for decades, let's not undo all that good work out of fear of a bit of sunlight.

          Me, I wear a rashie, but I do it for protection, ... other people's protection ... me without a shirt on is cruel and unusual punishment. December 31st is coming though so maybe I'll set a goal to have abs next year ... again.

    • by Nexus7 ( 2919 )

      Cotton is unsuited for sports. Consider technical clothing, for example, this one with UPF 50. https://www.thenorthface.com/s... [thenorthface.com]

  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @03:10AM (#50618307) Homepage Journal

    FTFA:

    Mark Saltzman, who falls into the last category, was so concerned by the time his third child was born that he wanted to engineer a better sunblock.

    Little children don't belong in the sun, in my opinion. I dress my two year old such that only her face, hands and feet are exposed by clothing. Every hour or so, I apply sunscreen. During summer, we'll be outside of course but if possible in some sort of shaded place. I've seen small children burned red by the sun, and I'm amazed at the carelessness. Better your child is hot than burned, right?

    That was my pet peeve. Besides that, I applaud this research.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @04:00AM (#50618435)

      "Little children don't belong in the sun" is just the other side of the "let your kid burn" coin. Both are extremes, and you'd probably be doing your kid better by chilling out a bit. You are likely contributing to chemical imbalances, depression, and/or vitamin D deficiency. You could be making your kid unnaturally paranoid about minor dangers. You could be restricting critical outdoor play time. Please don't take this as insulting your parenting, I know you're doing what you feel is best, it's just that this overprotectiveness is happening more and more lately and in many instances leading to worse problems than they aim to solve (while simultaneously requiring ten times the worry and energy from the parents).

      People need sunlight. On our skin, diffused/reflected into our eyes. It's absolutely necessary. Yeah, too much of it is a bad thing, so don't get too much. But too little is also bad.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think we grew up closer to the "let your kids burn" side of the coin. We would go to the beach at a local lake almost daily when we were between about the ages of 5 and 12 and I think my mom would put whatever passed for "suntan lotion" in the 1970s on us, once, when first got there and never reapply.

        I don't ever remember getting sunburned but I do remember getting a really dark tan.

        • I think we grew up closer to the "let your kids burn" side of the coin. We would go to the beach at a local lake almost daily when we were between about the ages of 5 and 12 and I think my mom would put whatever passed for "suntan lotion" in the 1970s on us, once, when first got there and never reapply.

          I don't ever remember getting sunburned but I do remember getting a really dark tan.

          This is the method I still use on my kids. I apply a high SPF sunscreen when we first arrive and never reapply. My kids have NEVER got a sunburn using this method. The only time my kids have every got close to being sunburned is when we forget to put it on at all. If we are somewhere all day for 8+ hours, I do occasionally do a second application at about the 4-6 hour point just as a precaution but even when I don't get around to the second application, my kids have never had a sunburn.

          • by orasio ( 188021 )

            In any case, sunburn is not the only reason you apply sunblock.

            Skin cancer doesn't really care all that much about sunburn, but the total of hours in the sun divided by the power of the sunblock used.

            • This map disagrees: http://www.worldlifeexpectancy... [worldlifeexpectancy.com] ...as does this website: http://www.skincancer.org/prev... [skincancer.org]
              • by jbengt ( 874751 )
                The map you linked to doesn't show the total amount of hours in the sun or the number of sunburns. It does show that places where people have paler skin (the north) have a greater chance of getting skin cancer than places where people have darker skin (Africa) or where they tend to cover up (the deserts).

                The skincancer.org site does say that having more than 5 sunburns is more important for melanoma than the total hours in the sun, but it says the opposite for other forms of skin cancer. My experience (
            • False. The body is far more resistant to continuous sun as it builds up a natural defense against it.
              End result is someone with a natural tan who spends every day in the sun is less likely to be affected than a pale geek who goes out once a week and gets roasted.

              • by jbengt ( 874751 )

                End result is someone with a natural tan who spends every day in the sun is less likely to be affected than a pale geek who goes out once a week and gets roasted.

                What about a pale geek like me, who can't get much of a tan no matter how much sun I get?

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            This is mostly what I end up doing about the second half of the summer.

            We go out to the lake and I apply SPF 55 when we first get there and about the first half of the summer I reapply after about 4 hours. By the end of the summer I still do the initial application but seldom reapply without any issues.

            With me, I probably mitigate this by wearing a loose-fitting "fishing shirt" that has some kind of super high SPF number (it's advertised for its sun safety) and a broad billed hat. I figure the sun exposur

          • Who the fuck stays outside in the sun with kids for 8+hours at a time?

            After an hour I'm ready for the bar and a fridge full of cold beers.

            • Who the fuck stays outside in the sun with kids for 8+hours at a time?

              After an hour I'm ready for the bar and a fridge full of cold beers.

              Have you never gone to the lake, gone camping, gone to a fair, gone to disney world, gone to a water park, gone to an amusement park, gone canoeing, gone on a multiday hike, etc.... There are a ton of different all day activities that are spent outside.

            • Forget about outside. Any amount of time with kids has me ready to drink.

          • Don't assume that advice is universal. I live in the skin cancer capital of the world. A trip to the beach will guarantee a sunburn if we're there the entire day, even with liberal re-application.

            Mind you in summer our UV is extreme enough that you get burnt in a cool 8 minutes in the sun. Our growing up campaign was therefore slip, slop, slap. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat.

        • I think my mom would put whatever passed for "suntan lotion" in the 1970s on us, once, when first got there and never reapply.

          Honestly I think the "reapply" part is mostly marketing wanting to sell more sunscreen anyways. I'm your typical sunburn risk patient - blond hair, blue yes, and paper-white skin. I walk out into the sun without sunscreen and I'll burn to a crisp in ~90 minutes. I do a lot of fishing though and am out in the sun a lot. As long as I put on sunscreen in the morning I'm perfectly fine (usually do 50 to 70 SPF). Sometimes I'm on the boat in the sun for 7 or 8 hours with a single application and I'm perfect

    • Better your child is hot than burned, right?

      I'd bet that more people die from heat stroke than from sunburn.

      Just saying...

  • As was DDT.. I love when they just make a new material and say it is safe. We'll see.. we'll see.
    • For the record, the ban on DDT has killed orders of magnitude more people than DDT ever could. The ban on DDT was FAR worse than DDT.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Citation needed.

        It's only banned in agriculture in most places and you can use it for malaria/disease control if it works (usually doesn't the mosquitoes are immune to DDT now).

        So your claim needs a citation to back it up.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          This is pretty well known stuff. Here's some reading material for you, the ban on DDT was fear mongering nothing more. The estimate is 50m-500m dead since it was banned, there's no solid figures because no one actually knows solidly how many people have died since the ban. But you can do out the math if you really want since 40% of the worlds population lives in areas where you can contract it.

          http://dwb.unl.edu/Teacher/NSF... [unl.edu]
          http://junkscience.com/2012/03... [junkscience.com]
          http://www.worldwatch.org/node... [worldwatch.org]

          • by Anonymous Coward

            "Here's some reading material for you, the ban on DDT was fear mongering nothing more"

            Have you actually read this? I took it as an example of your links, but it doesn't say DDT ban was fear mongering, quite the opposite:
            http://www.worldwatch.org/node/517

            "DDT is no longer used or manufactured in most of the world, but because it does not break down readily, it is still one of the most commonly detected pesticides in the milk of nursing mothers. DDT is also one of the "dirty dozen" chemicals included in the 2

          • by Anonymous Coward

            The environmental effects of DDT were disastrous and potentially irreversible if the overuse of DDT was continued. Whole ecosystems were shaking on their foundations. Whether the limitation on the use of DDT (it was never actually banned) caused any deaths at all is hard to measure, but the figures you state are just fear mongering, there's no evidence for them whatsoever. The articles you cite to support your claims are badly sourced and full of inconsistencies and lies.

          • It's only "pretty well known stuff" amongst anti-Environmentalist anti-government right wing nutjobs.
  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @03:26AM (#50618345)

    August 12th: Test Subject 2 appears to have cooked. Another 9-month sabbatical, damn it.

    • August 12th: Test Subject 2 appears to have cooked. Another 9-month sabbatical, damn it.

      Of course, before the 9-month sabbatical comes a research-grant funded "Create Test Subject 3" night with the undergrad redhead lab assistant.

  • Its great that they have developed a new sunscreen that is more effective.
    The thing I don't like is the 'nano particles' part, where do these nano particles go?
    How do they affect the environment?
    I can imagine that there are quite a lot of sunblock used around the world ...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Things always clump. The whole planet is one big clump of dirt. Nano particles don't stay that way for very long.

      • Things always clump. The whole planet is one big clump of dirt. Nano particles don't stay that way for very long.

        You can't argue with scientific logic like that!

    • How do they affect the environment?

      That's the least concern, because zinc oxide occurs naturally. The bigger concern is how they actually will affect you. They think that by making smaller particles they're going to reduce absorption?

      • That's the least concern, because zinc oxide occurs naturally. The bigger concern is how they actually will affect you. They think that by making smaller particles they're going to reduce absorption?

        ZnO doesn't pass through the skin at all, even as nanoparticles.

        But, yes, smaller particles often "get stuck" more easily passing through something porous than larger particles due to their larger surface area.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    into the environment after you rinse it off? That must also be considered before it can be called "safe", unless of course you only care about yourself.

  • Sun-protective clothing. No nano particles to be absorbed by the skin. Doesn't wash off. Gives 100+ SPF.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. A roof.
    2. Clothing.
    3. A wide-brimmed hat.
    4. Melanin. ( genetics )
    5. Common sense.

    Use 1-3 and 5 liberally, and there should be no need to apply nasty stinky possibly harmful chemical lotions unless you are pretty much without (4) ie albino or nearly so.

    source: a farmer.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      0. The planet earth (i.e. night time)

  • You cant get better than a white opaque paste.

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