On the heels of recent reports that some popular sunscreen products may be contaminated with carcinogenic benzene, researchers are now asking U.S. regulators to take even more sunscreens off the market. But unlike suspected benzene-contaminated sunscreens, this new batch of potentially problematic sunscreen products contain a different, but equally risky, ingredient – namely the chemical octocrylene. Products made with octocrylene may contain benzophenone, a suspected cancer-causing chemical that also can interfere with key hormones and reproductive organs.
According to Craig Downs, executive director of the nonprofit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, which studies risks to health and the environment, approximately 2,400 sun-protection products are made with octocrylene and ”[t]he FDA doesn’t know what their safety is and it’s unconscionable that the FDA would allow something that we don’t know if it’s safe or not.” Evidence of benzophenon contamination from ooctocrylene-containing sunscreens has been discovered in products manufactured under the Coppertone, Banana Boat and Neutrogena brands, including Coppertone Water Babies spray, Edgewell Personal Care Co.’s Banana Boat SPF 50 lotion and a Neutrogena Beach Defense spray and lotion from Johnson & Johnson.
Downs’ work suggests benzophenone is formed by degradation of octocrylene, and that the levels of benzophenone in sunscreen products increases over time. FDA research has shown the body can absorb enough of a sunscreens’ chemical ingredients to warrant further testing, and the FDA requested two years ago that sunscreen companies provide it with safety data on their products. However, there’s no indication these companies have complied, leaving both the FDA and the American public in the dark about the safety of a product class humans are increasingly reliant upon in an age of record-breaking heat waves and more intense sun exposure year after year.
While additional research is under way, for now it is prudent to carefully review the labels of any sunscreens you are considering for the presence of octocrylene among the ingredients. And if you believe you may have developed cancer from exposure to sunscreen products, you should contact an experienced law firm right away to explore your rights.