Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 10, Supplement 1, pp 23-37

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Rhetorical gamesmanship in the nano debates over sunscreens and nanoparticles

  • David M. BerubeAffiliated withDepartment of Communication, Public Communication on Science and Technology (PCOST) Project, North Carolina State University Email author 


Communication of risk profiles associated with sunscreens incorporating nanoparticles has been challenging when some communicators shift risk profiles from highly problematic nanoparticles to others, which are much less problematic. This article vets a popular publication from a civic advocacy group that cited scientific research papers to make environmental health and safety claims. The phenomenon of risk profile shifts is demonstrated by re-examining the scientific articles being cited. In addition, the authors for correspondence for each of the articles cited were interviewed via email and their comments about the claims made are included.


Nanotechnology Nanoparticles Sunscreens Titanium dioxide Zinc oxide Background Literature review Literature survey Environmental health and safety (EHS) Risk communication Risk profile shifts Governance Societal implications