After two hours, sunscreens that include some zinc oxide can lose effectiveness, become toxic

after two hours sunscreens that include some zinc oxide can lose effectiveness become toxic

Sumary of After two hours, sunscreens that include some zinc oxide can lose effectiveness, become toxic:

  • Sunscreen that includes zinc oxide, a common ingredient, loses much of its effectiveness and becomes toxic after two hours of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, according to a collaboration that included Oregon State University scientists.
  • The research team, which included College of Agriculture Sciences faculty Robyn Tanguay and Lisa Truong and graduate fellow Claudia Santillan, sought to answer important but largely neglected questions regarding the massive global sunscreen market, predicted by market data firm Statista to be worth more than $24 billion by the end of the decade.
  • The questions: How stable, safe, and effective are sunscreen ingredients in combination rather than as individual compounds — which is how they are considered for Food and Drug Administration approval — and what about the safety of any chemical products that result from reactions caused by exposure to sunlight?
  • “Sunscreens are important consumer products that help to reduce UV exposures and thus skin cancer, but we do not know if the use of some sunscreen formulations may have unintended toxicity because of interactions between some ingredients and UV light,” said Tanguay, an OSU distinguished professor and an international expert in toxicology.
  • What the public thinks about sunscreen safety has caused manufacturers, often based on limited data, to use lots of some ingredients while limiting others, she said.
  • “And sunscreens containing inorganic compounds like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, that block UV rays, are being marketed more and more heavily as safe alternatives to the organic small-molecule compounds that absorb the rays,” Tanguay said.
  • Scientists including the University of Oregon’s James Hutchinson and Aurora Ginzburg and the University of Leeds’ Richard Blackburn made five mixtures containing the UV filters — the active ingredients in sunscreens — from different products available in the United States and Europe.
  • They also made additional mixtures with the same ingredients, plus zinc oxide at the lower end of the commercially recommended amount.

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