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Sunscreen chemical in kids & adults

10:44 PM, Apr 19, 2008   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida--A controversial chemical in hundreds of sunscreens, creams and perfumes is turning up in 97 percent of Americans.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control found the chemical, called oxybenzone, in the majority of Americans.

It has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cell damage. Another study found some pregnant women exposed to the chemical gave birth to low birth weight baby girls.

A non-profit, consumer advocacy group, called the Environmental Working Group is calling for the Food & Drug Administration to determine the safety of the chemical. Oxybenzone is also a penetration enhancer, a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin.

The EWG says the FDA reviewed the safety of oxybenzone back in the 1970’s, but it does not reflect recent studies that show widespread contamination.

The groups says a recent review in the European Union found that sufficient data were not available to assess if oxybenzone in sunscreen was safe for consumers.

View name-brand products that contain oxybenzone:

· Sunscreens (588 products)

· facial moisturizer/treatment

· other products with SPF

· lip balm

· lipstick

· moisturizer

· anti-aging creams

· conditioner

· fragrance for women

Although oxybenzone is most common in sunscreen, companies also use the chemical in at least 567 other personal care products.

CDC scientists found the chemical in the urine of most of the 2500 Americans tested, ages 6 and up. Higher levels were found in women and girls compared to men and boys. Some suggest it’s because women and girls are more likely to use more products.

The consumer group warns parents to consider the effects of oxybenzone on children. EWG says kids’ developing organ systems are more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposure and more sensitive to low levels of hormonally active compounds (NAS 1991; Janjua 2004).

EWG is concerned that the FDA has delayed final sunscreen safety for nearly 30 years at the behest of the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association.

Parents concerned about exposing their kids to chemicals can keep them out of direct sun from 10 to 4 p.m., limit the use of sunscreen to only exposed areas or have them wear sun protection clothing & hats. Many clothing makers are now included tighter weave, sun protection clothing such as  Coolibar.com or Columbia.com.  Many sunscreen makers have also created chemical free/sensitive skin products that are available at most drugstores.

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