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Home > News > Nanoparticles from sunscreens damage microbes

March 24th, 2009

Nanoparticles from sunscreens damage microbes

Nanoparticles in sunscreens, cosmetics and other consumer products may pose risks to the environment by damaging beneficial microbes, scientists reported Tuesday. Nano-titanium dioxide found in personal care products reduced biological roles of bacteria after less than an hour of exposure. The findings suggest that these particles, which easily end up at sewage treatment plants after being washed off in showers, could eliminate microbes that play vital roles in ecosystems and help treat wastewater.

In the paper presented Tuesday at the annual conference of the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City, researchers Cyndee Gruden and Olga Mileyeva-Biebesheimer added varying amounts of nanoparticles to water containing bacteria. The bacteria were grown in a lab and stained with a green fluorescent. The scientists saw significant damage to the bacteria's cell walls after adding 10 to 100 milligrams per liter of the nano-substance. The cell membranes changed from green fluorescent to a faint red glow, which indicates damage.

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Dr. Cyndee L. Gruden, Ph.D., PE

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