FDA Warns: ‘Don’t Use Spray Sunscreen on Children’

A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has indicated that global temperatures are continuing to rise and the world will experience a hotter than normal summer this year. [1] This is why it’s important to protect our skin from the harmful sun damage that the sunny months may bring, especially our children’s delicate skin.There are many sunscreens available in the market today in varying forms, such as lotion, gel, powder, and spray. However, Consumer Reports has advised to discontinue the use of spray sunscreens on children due to the risk of inhalation – based on a statement from the FDA that they have not yet evaluated their safety in comparison to other sunscreens. [2]

Sunscreens often contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which are the highly reflective white components of the sunscreen – however these could be inhaled or swallowed by children while they are being sprayed. These chemicals may contain nanoparticles – which several studies have linked to development issues and reproductive problems for females. [3][4][5]

The International Agency for Research on Cancer also classified titanium dioxide as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ which could cause overloading of lung clearance, chronic inflammation, and lung tumors. [6]

Toxic Soup – All Over You

However these are not the only potentially unhealthy components of sunscreens. The “soup” of potentially toxic chemicals found in consumer brand sunscreens has come under harsh criticism from campaigners such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Chemicals such as benzophenone, benzophenone-3, avobenzone, oxybenzone, diethanolamine, triethanolamine (DEA, TEA), padimate-o, octyl dimethyl PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octyl-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate), salicylates, and parabens are common in sunscreens and many of these are suspected carcinogens or hormone disrupters that can be absorbed by the skin and enter the body. [7]

The FDA is still investigating on the potential risks of spray sunscreens, and until the results are out, Consumer Reports strongly urges parents to discontinue the use of these and try other formulations instead.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also warned consumers about marketing strategies by these companies that advertise false efficiency about their products. [8] In their 2015 sunscreen guide, 80% of the SPF products that they reviewed did not deliver the superior sun protection that they promised on the packaging. [9] This means that the sunscreen you’re using could actually do more harm to your health instead of protecting it.

While FDA’s investigation on spray sunscreens is still ongoing, experts are recommending consumers to avoid using these as much as possible.

Here are a few tips to help you protect your skin from sunburn, premature aging, and increased risk on skin cancer caused by heavy sun exposure. [10]

1. Stay in the shade. If possible, avoid direct sun exposure from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M., when the sun is at its highest in the sky and the heat is more intense.
2. Cover up. Wear clothes that cover up most of your body such as long shirts, shorts, wide-brimmed hats, pants and parasols to shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
3. Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
4. Pay attention to how your skin feels and looks. If your skin looks red, has blistered, and feels sore, it means you have been exposed to the sun for too long.
5. Check the UV index before going outdoors so you’ll know what proper measures to take to avoid sun overexposure.
6. Natural sunscreen. Here’s our page that links to a simple, more natural sunscreen formula that skips many of the harsh ingredients: http://www.herbs-info.com/blog/how-to-make-amazing-natural-homemade-sunscreen/


[1] Ferris, R. 2016. NOAA climate outlook: Hot summer for most of US

[2] “Don’t use spray sunscreens on children”

[3] Sun, J. et al. 2013. Effects of Nanotoxicity on Female Reproductivity and Fetal Development in Animal Models

[4] Ovarian dysfunction and gene-expressed characteristics of female mice caused by long-term exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles. (Journal of Hazardous Materials, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23131501

[5] Silica and titanium dioxide nanoparticles cause pregnancy complications in mice. (Nature Nanotechnology, 2011) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21460826

[6] Kuempel, E., Ruder, A. Titanium Dioxide (IARC Monograph) https://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Publications/techrep42/TR42-4.pdf

[7] Healthy Holistic Living – Home Made Sunscreen Formula http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/homemade-sunscreen.html

[7] Sifferlin, A. 2015. 80% of Sunscreens Don’t Really Work or Have ‘Worrisome’ Ingredients http://time.com/3883293/sunscreen-spf/

[8] 10th Annual EWG Sunscreen Guide https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/10th-annual/

[9] TIPS: Sunscreen Should Be Your Last Resort https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/


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