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Research Says Sun and Water Exposure Actually Turns Sunscreen Toxic

It’s summer, which means beach-goers, poolsiders, and sun-lovers everywhere are slathering themselves and their children in sunscreen to thwart the aging process and prevent future skin cancer. Smart move. Except now, researchers out of Russia have found that when exposed to sun and water, common chemicals in sunscreen can actually turn toxic.

According to a Chemosphere report, avobenzone, the FDA-approved substance responsible for filtering UV rays to prevent skin damage that is found in most sunscreens, could turn toxic when exposed to a mixture of sun and water, specifically chlorinated water such as that found in pools.

Scientists conducted lab tests to determine the safety of the compound and discovered that under certain conditions, avobenzone broke down into acetyl benzenes and phenols, which are highly toxic, particularly when chlorinated.

While this news no doubt will prove distressing to millions of people who rely on sunscreen to protect their skin, the results might actually lead to better regulation of harmful substances in everyday cosmetic products such as sunscreen and could result in the production of safer, more effective measures of protecting skin from harmful UV rays.

As someone who has had skin cancer and who must see a dermatologist yearly for a full body check, this news certainly causes me to raise an eyebrow. I mean, I’m not interested in getting more body parts cut out, but I’m also not interested in death by toxic cream.

It boils down to this: I’m not going to ignore the research, but I’m also definitely not going to just stop using sunscreen altogether. I’ll keep this info in the back of my mind and hold off on any drastic steps to eliminate it from household use, at least until further, more definitive research on the subject is readily available.

In the meantime, I will try my best to limit sun exposure, both for myself and my kids, and to outfit everyone in protective clothing and hats when we are enjoying some rays.

But locking everyone inside until scientists and cosmetic companies can get their stuff together? No. There is still life to live, and we’re going to enjoy it.