The value of sun protection can not be overstated. It is crucial to protect our skin from the sun’s harsh UV rays to prevent premature aging and potentially deadly skin cancer.
One of, if not the most popular ways of achieving sun protection is through the use of sunscreen. Although sunscreen provides great protection and should never be fully neglected, it also may have the potential to cause more harm than it prevents if used in excess.
Numerous studies have linked harmful chemicals found in many sunscreens to environmental degradation. New findings now also suggest that these same chemicals can pose major health concerns. For these reasons, it is best to limit our use of sunscreen and cover-up with UV protective clothing as much as possible.
How sunscreen may effect you:
Sunscreen is an essential part of a sun-safe life. However, new studies are finding that the sunscreen many of us use can cause us harm.
New FDA testing found that six common active ingredients found in many sunscreens are absorbed into the body and can linger there for extended periods of time. These studies also found that just one application of sunscreen increases the concentration of these toxic ingredients in our blood above the FDA’s threshold for what is considered to be safe.
These chemicals, which include avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene, have been shown to have various negative effects on our health. Studies find that oxybenzone alone may negatively impact breast development, infante birth weight, and sperm function.
Even with these new studies being done, we still do not know all of the impacts sunscreen may have on our health. Because of this, it is best to still use sunscreen when needed. However, it is important to keep these potential risks in mind and mitigate the use of chemical sunscreens as much as possible.
How sunscreen effects the environment:
How sunscreen negatively affects our health may still be up for debate. But, the harm the chemicals in many sunscreens causes the environment is not.
Harmful chemicals found any most mainstream sunscreens (such as Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, nano-Titanium dioxide, nano-Zinc oxide) have been found to cause coral bleaching which can cause the destruction of entire reef systems. Because of this, places such as Hawaii and Key West have banned the use of sunscreens that contain these harmful chemicals.
The chemicals in sunscreen have also been shown to decrease the fertility and reproduction rates of fish and other marine creatures such as mussels and sea urchins. These chemicals may also accumulate in the tissues of larger marine animals and be past on to their offspring.
Green algae is also negatively affected by the chemicals in sunscreen. The chemicals can impair the growth of the algae and prevent it from performing photosynthesis. This has the potential to be a major problem considering green algae produces around 20% of the oxygen we breathe.
Sunscreen is a key pillar to living a sun-safe life. But, in order to protect our environment and ourselves from the potential risks associated with the chemicals in sunscreen, it is best to limit its use as much as possible. Seek shade when UV radiation is at its peak hours and use UV protective clothing to cover-up as much of your skin as possible when out under the sun.