By Nyree Callaghan, Phoebe Baker

Victoria’s Australian Education Union is calling for schools to stop using sunscreen that contain nanoparticles.

The union says studies have shown that nanoparticles absorb through the skin and pose an unacceptable safety risk to students.

Campaigner with Friends of the Earth’s Nanotechnology Project, Elena McMaster, said they support Victoria’s push to stop the use of these sunscreens.

“In scientific studies they’ve been shown to damage cells and even break DNA strands,” she said.

Ms McMaster said all states in Australia follow Victoria’s lead and stop using these harmful sunscreens.

While Professor Ian Olver from the Cancer Council said it is a legitimate question, but there is no evidence that nanoparticles in sunscreen products are harmful.

“Given that there’s been sunscreens with nanoparticles on the market for many years, without adverse events reported, we don’t think the evidence is strong enough to call for a ban,” he said.

Australian Families Association spokesman Tim Cannon said the union’s action may be premature at this stage and the primary concern for now is safety.

“Under the Australian sun, which is renowned for its impact on skin and its potential to do damage, our number one priority is just to make sure kids are adequately protected,” he said.