Nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are not safe-

This is very important for outdoor enthusiasts.

There has always been controversy over sunscreens — about their effectiveness, screening UVA versus UVB, and migration of sunscreen chemicals into your body.  Two you could always count on for safety, however, were the mineral oxides (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide), bright white and inert.

However, people didn’t like the white film they left on their skin.

In recent years very small particles over many elements and chemicals have been developed.  The physical and chemical properties of these tiny particles are amazing, useful, and sometimes dangerous. Nano-sized particles of a chemical often behave very differently than powders of a larger size. With zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the white film and somewhat greasy feel disappears.  They are invisible soon after application. They still reflect UV rays. However, they sink deep into your skin. This allows the reflected rays to bounce sideways into your skin. Much worse, some of the oxide sinks right through your skin into your blood. From there they are distributed throughout your body.

These are very hard powders, even nanosized.  Your body cannot expel them. They stick in your organs and they provide a surface for many kinds of chemical reactions. Almost all sunscreens with these oxides today are nanosized, and they don’t have to tell you.

Friends of the Earth just put out an alert on them, but I have rejected their use for about three years now.  You can still get the effective, safe, old-fashioned oxides, but it usually means ordering online. You won’t find them at the grocery or drug store. I ordered some at Amazon.com.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

4 Responses to Nanosunscreens threaten your health

  1. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    I’ve never used sunscreens. For me it’s a hat, long sleeves, trousers, etc., plus a siesta at the sun’s height.

    RH

  2. avatar Virginia says:

    Thanks, Ralph for this information! I have had skin cancer twice and my husband once, so I am always looking for new information about sunscreens. We spend a lot of time outdoors and it is not always easy to stay out of the sun. I ordered the Zinka and hope it is as good as they claim.

  3. avatar Tilly says:

    Jeez! But at the same time, it’s coming out that the chemical-type sunscreens are bad for you and may accelerate cancer. So this means both chemical and mineral kinds are bad for you? Not sure what is left.
    http://www.aolnews.com/health/article/study-many-sunscreens-may-be-accelerating-cancer/19488158

    The article is based on an EWG study. EWG’s site lists good & bad ones but their good list appears to have mineral-based ones like Ralph is discussing above.
    http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/

  4. Tilly,

    You can buy non-nano zinc oxide with none of the chemicals. It works well. You do get a white film if you put it on thick.

    For example, I use http://www.amazon.com/Loving-Naturals-Organic-Sunscreen-Oxide/dp/B002G95W60/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=beauty&qid=1275675411&sr=1-5

    If you look at the URL you posted, you’ll find some of chemicals are a good deal more dangerous than others.

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