There has been considerable hype lately about health risks posed by sunscreen itself. Organic sunscreen aside, almost all commercial brands carry potential hazards. In the end, the consumer must make the final decision based on the facts.[I:0:T]
Of great concern to researchers is the use of nano particles in sunscreen. These are extremely small particles that can pass through membranes that have been able to block previous manufactured materials. The health risks of nano particles are not fully understood as they are the result of relatively new technology. The bottom line is finding how far toxins can go at this small size.
One harmful sunscreen ingredient that stands out is oxybenzone. This chemical helps to protect the skin and makes it easier for other chemicals to be absorbed into the skin. When mothers have been exposed to oxybenzone during pregnancy, there has been an increased instance of low birth weight among baby girls. Other negative health factors that occur more frequently include cell damage, allergies, and hormone disruption.
Interestingly, in 1978 the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced standards for regulating sunscreens, but these standards were never completed or fully enacted. To this day sunscreen standards have never been finalized by the FDA, despite promises to the contrary.
Regarding the active ingredients in sunscreen, five out of six have been found to behave like estrogen in humans, and at least one of these chemicals is found in virtually all commercial sunscreen products. The greatest potential risk lies with breast cancer patients and children.
Taking a look at effectiveness, the popular SPF ratings do not take into account the harmful UVA rays present in sunlight. Many popular sunscreens do not provide the consumer with enough protection against exposure to UVA rays. Though not a matter of toxins, this is certainly a health issue.
There is still not enough data to draw a final conclusion on potential dangers of sunscreen products. Action by the FDA on this issue would provide a great value to the public, and the use of organic sunscreen products is currently a much safer bet.