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Ban Oxybenzone Sunscreen

<p>Due to several factors, oxybenzone should be banned from use in sunscreen.</p>

Due to several factors, oxybenzone should be banned from use in sunscreen.


Oxybenzone is an aromatic ketone in the benzophenone class. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the early 1980’s as a UVA filter, and is one of the most commonly used sunscreens today.

Oxybenzone has been in the news as a potential endocrine disruptor. Systemic absorption in humans has been thoroughly documented. Due to exposure from its widespread applications in industry (not just as a sunscreen) it is excreted in the urine of nearly 97% of the population in the United States (US). In vitro studies have shown both estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity. In a limited clinical trial with human volunteers, the authors concluded that observable differences in hormonal levels between subjects who applied oxybenzone and controls was not demonstrable.

However, hormones and their effects are incredibly complicated and intertwined with biologic systems in ways that are subtle and difficult to elucidate. A known hormone disruptor such as oxybenzone should be avoided whenever possible.

Oxybenzone also has the distinction of being the most allergenic chemical in common sunscreen formulations. Benzophenones were declared the 2014 “contact allergen of the year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. Use by susceptible individuals can lead to redness, itching, edema, and even anaphylaxis.

Oxybenzone has also been controversial as toxic to coral reefs, leading to bleaching of reefs at very dilute levels. Current recommendations for those diving or swimming near coral reefs are to use titanium or zinc sunscreen formulations. However, adherence to this recommendation is, of course, voluntary and requires an informed and prepared diving populace. Realistically, as one of the most common sunscreen chemicals, oxybenzone will continue to pollute and kill coral reefs.

Wide spectrum UVA-absorbing chemical alternatives to oxybenzone are available. The most widely used one is Avobenzone. Newer formulations are available in Europe, but have not been approved in the US due to FDA delay. If oxybenzone were evaluated by the FDA today, it is hard to imagine that it would meet their current criteria of “generally recognized as safe and effective.”

Due to oxybenzone’s potential as a hormone disruptor, its rank as the most allergenic sunscreen ingredient, and its potential to harm coral reefs, it should be banned from sunscreens.

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