issues and experts

SFU expert on nanomaterials in sunscreens

August 15, 2019

Viridiana Perez, Department of Chemistry, (418) 271-9956,
Sarah Lachance, Communications and Marketing, (778) 782-3210,

Do you know what’s in your sunscreen? SFU chemistry postdoctoral fellow Viridiana Perez is an expert on nanomaterials—the tiny particles about a million times smaller than the average ant—that are used in mineral sunscreens for blocking the sun’s harmful rays.

Nanomaterials come in many shapes and sizes. They can be made from lipids, organic materials, or metals and they can have a surface coating. However, the different possible combinations of these attributes makes it difficult for researchers to generalize the safety of these particles when they interact with our cells. In addition, our lifestyle choices and other environmental factors can alter how our bodies react to certain nanomaterials.

Perez says while not all nanomaterials are toxic and many have beneficial uses in different applications, those that are should be better regulated. “it can be difficult for researchers to get information from manufacturers on the nanomaterials being used in products.,” says Perez, adding that more knowledge would help to properly identify and regulate the nanomaterials.

Perez is available today, August 15, and tomorrow, August 16, to speak about nanomaterials in sunscreen and other products including cosmetics and wound dressings, the possible ways consumers are exposed to them and their effects on living organisms and aquatic life. She is also able to speak about the risks associated with nanomaterials, their regulation and what consumers can do to help.

About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded more than 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 155,000 alumni in 143 countries around the world. 

Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.