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2D structural formula of Silica


What is it?

“Silicon dioxide, also known as silica (from the Latin silex), is an oxideof silicon with the chemical formula SiO2, most commonly found in nature as quartz and in various living organisms.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

As mentioned in the quote from Wikipedia, silica can be found naturally in plants, rocks, animals, the human body, and many other places on earth. And when we consume silica naturally through our food, it is considered safe.

However, silica becomes a concern when it is inhaled. Airborne silica of respiratory size is a known carcinogen and is of particular concern for workers in related industries, such as construction, where you risk inhaling silica. The substance can penetrate the lung and cosmetic products such as powders and sprays containing silica should be used with caution.

Another thing to note, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has not yet given silica, also called silicon dioxide or synthetic amorphous silica (SAS), the safety clear. EFSA says that they cannot fully exclude that the silica is not used in nano-form. And as there are no long-term studies of how nano silica affect health and ecosystem, the EFSA has concluded that the current research is insufficient to determine if it is safe or not.

Silica is on the Red List* from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund). They list silica as a known carcinogen and an occupational hazard.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identifies that silica “causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated, cause serious eye irritation and is harmful if inhaled.”

* “The Red List includes chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The list also flags chemicals that are banned or have use restrictions by the U.S. or other world governments, ingredients that adversely impact worker health, and ingredients that are widely used in products marketed to women of color.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

How is it used?

Silica is mainly used as an abrasive (removes materials from various body surfaces or improves gloss) in cosmetic products. The ingredient can be found in products like foundations, eyeshadows, scar treatments, lipsticks, and blushes.

But silica is also added to a lot of different foods and supplements. It is mainly used as an anti-caking agent to avoid clumping of powdered ingredients, such as spices. But silica can also be found in creamers where it serves to absorb water.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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