Nanoparticles are microscopic particles that are invisible to the human eye. These particles are a part of a branch of science called nanotechnology, which brings various types of matter down to the molecular scale. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the two most common types of nanoparticles found in sunscreen.
In the scientific community, there has been much debate on whether these nanoparticles do more harm or good to people and the environment. To get a better understanding about the issue, it's important to weigh both the pros and cons of nanoparticles in sunscreen. Some benefits include improved skin penetration and better protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Disadvantages, on the other hand, include the potential for cell damage and adverse affects to the environment.
According to some scientists, the nanoparticles found in sunscreen help improve how the helpful substances penetrate the skin to protect against the sun. Nanoparticles are so microscopic that they can successfully penetrate the skin. Since the epidermis is normally very difficult to penetrate, this is beneficial. As a result, the healthy, helpful substances of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can enter through the skin and ultimately reach cells.
This in turn leads to the second benefit of nanoparticles in sunscreen. Since nanoparticles are able to reach cells, they help to consequently provide the skin with better protection from ultraviolet rays. When compared with traditional sunscreen, sunscreen containing nanoparticles is better adapted for protecting from skin cancer. This is especially helpful in locations with intense ultraviolet rays like Australia.
On the other hand, one of the main drawbacks is that there is the potential for cell damage when employing nanotechnology. Since this is a relatively new technology, it's difficult to determine exactly what the long term effects on human cells will be. Some scientists are concerned that penetrating cells with nanoparticles will increase reactive oxygen species levels. As a result, there is the potential for serious cellular damage that can have negative, long term health consequences. Until we know more about nanotechnology, many scientists are wary of its effects.
Another problem with nanoparticles in sunscreen is that they could also cause environmental damage. Some environmentalists are concerned that nanoparticles can interfere and upset certain microorganisms that help sustain the environment. This unnatural effect on the biosphere could do damage to both plants and animals. In the long term, some worry that nanoparticles in sunscreen could potentially even create new diseases that could kill humans, plants and animals.