Monday, September 30, 2013

Toxic in Sunscreen Found - Chemistry in the News

When the summer season settled in, everyone loves to stay outside for outdoor activities such as the beach, barbeque, sports etc. However, this could also mean that the risks of having skin cancer increases during the summer months due to high exposure to UV rays. Sunscreen or sunblock is the best method to prevent any potential skin damages to occur; therefore during the season, many sunscreen industries such as Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropics received high benefits in their marketing unit.

SPF (Sun Protection Factors) is a factor that many consumers look at when they purchase sunscreens. The higher the number, the better; however, most of them overlooked one key ingredient, titanium dioxide. It is an inorganic compound that is approved by FDA to be at a safe level for consumer use. Titanium dioxide is labeled in the back of most sunscreens as a UV protection agent and absorbent against the harmful spectrum of UVA and UVB rays.

Recently, some chemists who conducted some experiments found more potential hazards that titanium dioxide may affect on consumer’s epidermis layer of the skin. Pro-longed use of titanium dioxide has been found to create toxic on the skin. The toxic appears on the skin as titanium dioxide absorbs UV rays. The toxic compounds that they found were crystalline solids, rutile and anatase. Both are one of the forms of TiO2 found in nature. However, anatase is the compound that concerned most chemists because it is difficult to wash off from the skin. As it lingers on the skin’s surface, it creates a damaging effect on the skin and increases the skin’s aging by free radicals even in low UV environment. Chemists emphasized and favored that pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries should minimize the output of anatase crystalline and lean on products with rutile crystalline form of titanium dioxide.





Left and middle pictures are taken for educational purposes only. They are in the references. The far right picture is a picture created by me.

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