On Wednesday, Hawaiian lawmakers passed a law banning the sale and distribution of sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate. Chemicals that are harmful to the coral reefs of the ocean for . The ingredients can potentially increase the susceptibility of the coral to bleaching, and up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen are reported to end up in coral reefs every year.
Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are two of the most popular ingredients in chemical sunscreens – these are sunscreens that use chemicals as an active ingredient. In most drugstores chemical sunscreens dominate the shelves and rely on a chemical reaction to protect the skin from the sun's rays.
That gave us the idea: if oxybenzone and octinoxate can harm corals, what do they do to our bodies? [1
Before reading too far, it is important to note that sunscreen is not solely responsible for damaging the world's corals. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the biggest threats to coral reefs are global climate change, unsustainable fisheries and pollution from land pollution.
But chemical sunscreens could have other harmful effects. "We have probably raised concerns about the use of oxybenzone in sun creams for at least 10 years," said David Andrews, chief scientist of the Environmental Working Group, to HuffPost, noting that the EEC recommends that consumers avoid it as much as possible.
According to EWG, oxybenzone was detected in almost every American blood. Studies have shown that oxybenzone can affect the endocrine system (the glands in your body that produce hormones), Andrews said, adding that increased levels of oxybenzone in adolescent boys led to lower testosterone levels. Octinoxate may be associated with a similar set of concerns, Andrews said, finding that there are fewer studies and less research to support these claims. That's why much of the research is focused on oxybenzone.
Andrews acknowledged that the results of these studies were not 100 percent unambiguous, but added, "We think this raises concerns about avoiding it."
"We think there are alternative sunscreens that avoid this ingredient," he said.
That's right. There are sunscreen products on the market that use minerals (generally zinc oxide and / or titanium dioxide) as their active ingredients. These sunscreens are known as physical blockers; they actually block the sun's rays from penetrating the skin, unlike a chemical reaction like chemical blockers.
One company, All Good, has been making sunscreens with no oxybenzone and other potentially toxic chemicals for years.
"Science has shown that UV absorbers (chemical agents) cause unnecessary damage to human and aquatic systems," said Caroline Duell, founder and CEO of Good, to HuffPost. "They are known toxins with studies that have shown the development of cancer, endocrine and reproductive disorders, and DNA mutation.To achieve optimal efficacy with sunscreens, non-nanoparticle zinc oxide is the best option, it is one from the FDA approved active mineral and alone provides safe UVA / UVB broadband protection. "
Duell also said she hopes the sunscreen industry" will follow science and be a leader in protection "from harmful rays and formulated our skin at the same time, which is best for human health and helps maintain critical watersheds.
Dermatologists are not so worried.
It should be noted that both oxybenzone and octinoxate are FDA approved chemicals for protection against the sun's rays, as Dr. Jody Levine, director of dermatology at Plastic NYC Surgery and Dermatology, HuffPost said, "According to FDA, there are no definitive data showing that any of these ingredients are harmful to our health."
Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, a dermatologist-certified dermatologist at the Laser In New York, agreed, and said, despite some claims, chemical sunscreens could be harmful or even cause cancer, there is no evidence based on good scientific evidence
According to Levines, a ban on the sale of chemical sunscreens could Prevent people from wearing sunscreen as they use less w probably looking for other options.
"It's a stigma for these ingredients and these ingredients are necessary for broadband protection," she said. Unprotected sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. "
Both Levine and MacGregor agreed on the effectiveness of chemical sunscreens in protecting our skin from the sun and did not comment Concerns about their use. Both, however, said they prefer to use sunscreens (which are minerals as active ingredients) that protect against UVA and UVB rays, while not all chemicals in chemical sunscreens block both. (Oxybenzone, though, noted Levine.) Physical blockers also tend to irritate the skin less, both doctors said.
This is the type of sunscreen that you should wear.
The most important thing here should be that you should always wear sunscreen when exposed to the sun. That's Rule # 1. The kind you use is up to you, at least until Hawaii's ban in 2021 goes into effect.
But if you're still worried about whether your sunscreen could damage corals in the oceans or your own body, opt for a physical blocker that protects you from UVA and UVB rays.
The only bad thing, Levine said, is not enough sunscreen to use or not apply it all day.
And, as MacGregor said, "While there is no evidence that the use of sunscreen is harmful, there is well-documented evidence that exposure to UV radiation is associated with the development of skin cancer and more regularly Sunscreen reduces this risk. "