Many know that chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone, avabenzone, octinate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octisalate are harming the ecosystems we love to enjoy. In the past year Hawaii, Palau, Aruba, Bonaire, and now Key West all banning their sale and use. However mounting studies are suggesting they are causing a number of problems in human health as well, especially pregnant mothers and young children. Two recent studies have link chemical sunscreens with a digestive birth defect called Hirschsprung’s Disease.
Hirschsprung’s Disease is a digestive defect in which the colon is enlarged and missing ganglion cells and the rectum is shrunken. Surgery is required to correct the problem.
Researchers tested a group of 423 Chinese patients and their mothers; 101 had been diagnosed with HSCR, 103 required surgery for other digestive disorders, and 219 were otherwise healthy. Their data shows that there was a positive association between women who had medium to high levels of oxybenzone in urine and children who had HSCR.
A second paper, also published this week by the scientists at Haereticus, reveals the dangers of applying chemical sunscreens to children under the age of 5. A review of 169 sunscreen products labeled as safe for use on babies and children found unsafe levels of six common chemical UV absorbers – all of which are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals – when applied according to manufacturers' recommendations.
The study authors strongly urge pregnant women to avoid using sunscreen products with oxybenzone in their first trimester, as well as women trying to conceive, since oxybenzone is a fat-soluble chemical that can linger in the body for weeks. Joe DiNardo, one of the study co-authors, said,"A pregnant woman who follows the instructions for the recommended use of sunscreen products containing 6% oxybenzone (two 1-ounce application of sunscreen) could have concentrations of oxybenzone and fetal blood levels reach as high as 3,800 part per billion in the woman, and 384 parts per billion in the fetus. These concentrations of oxybenzone can potentially cause these toxic cellular changes, and give rise to Hirschsprung’s Disease.”
Researcher Craig Downs said that oxybenzone is a risk even when not applied directly. "Oxybenzone that is contaminating swimming pools and beaches can be absorbed directly into the skin of pregnant women and children, increasing their exposure to oxybenzone and the risk associated with that exposure. I won’t let my own children get into public swimming pools or many beaches because the levels of oxybenzone and octocrylene can be dangerously high.”
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