Is Your Sunscreen Green?

June 8, 2009

As you are trotting out the door for a weekend of fun, ask yourself this: have you given any thought to sunscreen?   For decades now, we’ve been concerned about the ozone layer and global warming.  But what about your skin?  Is the sunscreen you’re wearing making the problem better or worse?  As you protect yourself from the sun, what are you doing to the planet?

Most of us know that everything we use, whether we’re speaking of laundry soap or lipstick, at some point winds up in the environment, where some of it has the potential to wreak havoc.  And that includes sunscreen.

Think about it: you put it on your face and run out the door.  Whether it is sweated off or simply floats away in the pool, it’s often “gone” by the time you come home at the end of the day.  And since we know “magic sunscreen elves” didn’t remove it, it had to go somewhere. 

What’s in that sunscreen you rub on your shoulders?  Most UV-protection creams sold in the United States contain some combination of as many as 17 FDA-approved active ingredients. Two of those, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are minerals; the rest are carbon-based chemicals such as octinoxate, oxybenzone and octisalate, each of which might go by a number of different names.

With these classes of ingredients, there are concerns over the minerals, including the increased usage of new nano-formulations of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Though studies suggest that these tiny particles are better at blocking UV rays than are their larger counterparts, and though a number of studies have shown that they don't penetrate healthy skin, many skeptics say not enough research has been done to substantiate safety claims. Certain chemical ingredients, on the other hand, may penetrate the skin and act as endocrine disrupters, affecting users' hormones and reproductive functions.

Human health and planetary health aren't the same thing, but they are related: Any mineral or chemical that might be harmful to humans could damage wildlife and destabilize ecosystems. Though the studies aren't exhaustive, researchers have found chemical UV filters in lakes, oceans and rivers around the world, with the highest concentrations found near wastewater treatment plants.

The accumulation of both kinds of UV filters in the water is troubling to some toxicologists because of their potential to build up inside the cells of fish and other marine life. A series of studies conducted in Switzerland found two of these commonly used chemicals inside fish living in rivers and lakes, though the reports didn't indicate that the animals' overall health was suffering.

Fewer data are available on the major UV filters used in the United States. Researchers at the University of California at Riverside did test the effects of one common ingredient, oxybenzone, on two fish species. They found that it diminished reproductive abilities, but only at concentrations much higher than those observed in suspected areas of contamination in California and New York.

In the wake of this science -- and, it seems, out of a general sense that minerals are more "natural" than chemicals -- many green-minded folks are switching from chemical sunscreens to the zinc or titanium varieties. But those haven't been proved 100 percent safe for our ecosystems, either.

There's also the production of sunscreen to worry about. The mining and processing of minerals is resource-intensive and environmentally taxing. Creating titanium dioxide can result in large amounts of iron sulfate waste or smaller amounts of the more hazardous iron chloride waste. Manufacturing the nano-size versions may require plenty of extra energy plus more purifying solvent, which generates significant amounts of waste that may be hazardous, depending on the solvent used.

It's hard to tell exactly how the chemicals stack up in terms of production, because manufacturers aren’t required to release their exact formulations. (As an industry, though, metal mining releases more than twice the amount of toxic chemicals as the chemicals industry, according to the EPA.)

Of course, there are other ways to protect your skin at the beach, such as hats, umbrellas, and maximum coverage clothing.  All of which would help you go green and at the same time, stay pale.


October 19. 2018 16:22

Mercedes-AMG 雙門跑車 C190 曝光 - STYLE-TIPS.COM 最近網上流傳一輯 Mercedes-AMG 最新代號為 C190 雙門跑車的圖輯...

醫學美容 果漾

November 10. 2018 18:01

As Cesc Fabregas prepares to face Arsenal with Chelsea this weekend, we asked Sportsmail's PHIL DUNCAN five questions about the Spaniard. Cesc Fabregas will line up against Arsenal in a Chelsea shirt on Sunday... so, how do the fans feel about it? And was Arsene Wenger right not to bring him back?

Football Solutions Under-19 - Netherlands-Liechtenstein

March 19. 2019 02:17

<p>payday loans online <a href=""" rel="nofollow">" rel="nofollow">personal loans online</a> personal loans online <a href=""" rel="nofollow">" / rel="nofollow">low fee payday loans</a></p>

Daniele Armstrong

March 21. 2019 05:31

<p>I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog.<br />Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?</p><p>Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to<br />see a nice blog like this one these days.</p>

Eulah Maccarthy

March 23. 2019 08:43

Someone essentially assist to make seriously articles I might state. That is the very first time I frequented your web page and thus far? I amazed with the research you made to make this particular post amazing. Magnificent activity!

Jewelry Collection

March 23. 2019 08:55

"I am glad to be a visitor of this pure web blog, appreciate it for this rare info!"

Trinket Fascinations

March 23. 2019 22:48

<p>[url=" rel="nofollow">]" rel="nofollow">[/url] Loramumnbomsmomounax , <a href="" rel="nofollow">" rel="nofollow">Apple iPhone SE, 32 GB, silber</a></p>

Suzi Else

March 23. 2019 22:53

<p>personal loans <a href=""" rel="nofollow">" rel="nofollow">best personal loans</a> personal loans <a href=""" rel="nofollow">" / rel="nofollow">emergency money</a></p>

Lura Noxon

April 23. 2019 01:56

I appreciate, cause I found exactly what I was looking for. You've ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

Ashli Chiariello

May 5. 2019 03:53

Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I'm trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Lucila Vought

May 7. 2019 01:21

I precisely needed to thank you very much again. I'm not certain the things that I could possibly have done in the absence of those strategies contributed by you over such a theme. It was before a very challenging concern in my circumstances, but seeing a new skilled tactic you treated the issue forced me to jump with joy. Now i am thankful for your information and then have high hopes you recognize what an amazing job you happen to be providing teaching most people all through your website. Most likely you haven't encountered any of us.

Vina Pruit

June 18. 2019 07:31

Wow! How did you comoe up with atht coolpost?

Yajaira Dornon

July 11. 2019 11:37

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.

please click the next internet page

January 7. 2020 18:56

I’ll right away take hold of your rss as I can not to find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me know so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

Todd Snively

January 8. 2020 05:44

I don't usually share any sources of making side money, but now will make an exemption. Check out this affiliate program: . I registered around 4 weeks back and I'm already smashing whooping $5000 each month - all of that by participating on blogs with my affiliate link. Easy money that you can do literally in your bedroom. Check this out and share your earings here, so other people can see it is genuine program. Best wishes.

Vince Gill

February 6. 2020 10:05

Amazing! This blog looks just like my old one! It's on a completely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

Shirley Taylor

Green Business Alliance - Home Greenify For Better Business - Greenify Now