26 September 2023

Calls to cool down on sunscreen testing

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Exposing humans to ultraviolet radiation to test the effectiveness of sunscreen should be phased out according to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

Partnering with the Cancer Council Victoria and RMIT University to make the recommendation, ARPANSA said it was backed by research published in the journal Trends in Analytical Chemistry.

Chief Radiation Health Scientist at ARPANSA, Rick Tinker said the paper reviewed sunscreen ingredients, regulations and testing globally, and proposed a roadmap for the development of human-free sunscreen testing.

“Testing sunscreens on humans is the current international standard to rate UV protection performance,” Dr Tinker said.

“This testing involves volunteers wearing a sunscreen and being exposed to artificial solar UV to measure the performance by the time taken for sunburn to occur,” he said.

“This has ethical challenges as it exposes people to cancer-causing UV radiation.

Dr Tinker said sunscreens were an important part of sun protection and preventing serious sun damage to people, “but we shouldn’t be risking people’s long-term health to test the effectiveness of sunscreens.”

Director of RMIT’s Sir Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility, Vipul Bansal said his team had already developed a prototype sensor that changed colour when exposed to UV radiation, and this could be customised for human-free sunscreen testing by mimicking the skin.

“What excites me the most is that access to this new method will allow sunscreen manufacturers to rapidly innovate new and better sunscreens, which is currently limited due to time and cost constraints involved with human testing,” Professor Bansal said

He said his team was working with ARPANSA to develop the required human-free sunscreen testing methods and protocols before the year 2030.

The Sunscreen Testing: a critical perspective and future roadmap research paper can be accessed at this PS News link.

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