By now, you probably know that if you're going to spend any time outside, you need to protect your skin from the sun. However, now you need to choose the right products to do so - especially if you're planning to spend time in a swimming pool. That's because in an attempt to protect yourself from skin cancer, you could potentially increase your risk of a host of other health issues if you choose the wrong product.
One of the most common sunscreen ingredients is called avobenzone, a derivative of another chemical compound called dibenzoylmethane. It's widely used in sunscreens and other cosmetic products because of its ability to absorb ultraviolet rays. However, the trouble comes when it's exposed to other chemicals, particularly some commonly found in swimming pools.
Researchers at the Faculty of Chemistry of the Lomonosov Moscow State University have investigated avobenzone's reaction when it's exposed to chlorine and have found some troubling information. According to the results of their study, which were published in the journal Chemosphere, avobenzone can breakdown into hazardous compounds that can cause infertility, immune system damage, and cancer. If the pool water also contains copper salts, a chemical often added to make the water look blue, the news gets even worse. Avobenzone can react with the copper salts to form compounds that lead to negative liver and kidney impact and nervous system disorders.
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The researchers are studying avobenzone further to see if any harmful breakdowns happen in fresh or salt water. However, it's best to avoid this chemical altogether. You don't want to accidentally grab the wrong bottle when you're headed out to the pool. While you do still need to protect your skin from the sun, mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to physically block the UV rays from reaching your skin don't cause the same health problems. Make sure you reapply regularly, especially after you spend time in the water. Basic sunscreen rules are:
- Apply 30 minutes before going out in the sun
- Then reapply every two hours and soon after you swim or sweat excessively
- Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater
- People of all skin colors need to protect their skin
- There is NO sunscreen that is truly waterproof or sweat proof
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) strongly recommends avoiding oxybenzone. On the EWG website, it details how this chemical enters the bloodstream, potentially triggering an allergic skin reaction. Instead, as mentioned above, use zinc oxide and other more natural sun barriers - especially for young children.
To your health, naturally,