Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CDC Report Says Sunscreen Chemical Oxybenzone In Most Of Us

Mar 25: According to a release from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that the bodies of nearly all Americans are contaminated with a sunscreen chemical that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage. A companion study from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine found that the same chemical is linked to low birth weight in baby girls whose mothers are exposed during pregnancy.

The chemical, oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3), is widely used in sunscreens. It was last reviewed for safety in the 1970’s but since then significant new evidence has been published on its toxicity and pervasive exposure. Oxybenzone is also a penetration enhancer, a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin. A recent review by the European Union found insufficient data to determine whether oxybenzone in sunscreen is safe for consumers. Rebecca Sutton, a scientist with EWG said, “These studies are the latest in a long list of reasons the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must thoroughly review the safety of all chemicals used in sunscreens Americans use every day. FDA must do what it promised 30 years ago: Enact permanent, enforceable federal safety standards for sunscreens so consumers can get the best and safest sun protection.”

Nearly 600 sunscreens sold in the U.S. contain oxybenzone, including products by Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone, and Banana Boat, according to an analysis of ingredient labels by EWG. And, although oxybenzone is most common in sunscreen, companies also use the toxic chemical in at least 567 other personal care products, including lip balm, lipstick, moisturizers and fragrance for women. EWG research shows that 84 percent of 910 name-brand sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients, like oxybenzone, with significant safety concerns. EWG says, "These products are on the market because FDA has failed to finalize sunscreen safety standards that have been under development since 1979, but has instead issued a series of delays and revisions at the request of the personal care product industry. FDA issued a new draft of the standards last October under pressure from EWG, but continues to delay finalizing the standards at the behest of the regulated industry."

Update: On July 1, 2008, EWG issued an update to its Sunscreen Report and database (click here).

Access a release from EWG (
click here). Access EWG's research on oxybenzone (click here). Access links to the FDA 2007 Proposed Sunscreen Rule, and related background information (click here). [*Toxics]


patmatt said...

How does information like this get to the public so that it becomes a general knowledge? I first heard about oxybenzone when I went to a dermatologist today. He distributes information to anyone coming into his office about protection from the sun. His recommendation is that people use preparations with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Umer said...

This is remarkable search by the CDC about natural oxybenzene. No douby oxybenzene is widely used almost 90% percent of the sunscreen available in the market.
Although many people use sunscreen to save theirselves form the harm ful rays of Ultra Violet radiation from the sun which causes skin cancer and other diseases like vitiligo etc. Another reason of the increasing the use of sunscreen is sunburn of due to the skin condition Vitiligo.
But one thing that for normal people the negative effects of the chemical use in the sunscreen are more dangerous from the sun.
I think the solution of this problem is, to use herbal or natural products in the sunscreen. And FDA took steps to avoid the use of such chemical in the skin care products.

Tarasview said...

the kinEsys sunscreen I have for my kids does not contain that- what a relief!

Lauren said...

I've become somewhat of an activist for this kind of thing. I'm doing my best to educate family and friends on the harmful effects of the chemicals that are in many of the products available to US consumers. I think the best we can do is all try to educate everyone and anyone who will listen!

When looking for products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, you want to make sure they are non-nanoparticle based. There is limited evidence available for harm from nanoparticle based compounds like titanium dioxide, but it has been suggested that nanoparticle sized compounds like this can penetrate the skin and/or cell barriers.

I have been advocating for better regulation in cosmetics, including sunscreens and lotions and doing my best to collect research papers on the subject. If you're interested in more research papers or non-toxic product suggestions feel free to e-mail me at naturalsolutionsatl@gmail.com.