Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who won her re-election bid last month with 77% of the vote, has solicited two Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Jack Reed (D-RI) to propose a bill in Congress that would ban oxybenzone and octinoxate nationwide. According to numerous studies both ingredients are not only harmful to coral reefs but also, perhaps, to humans as endocrine disruptors. The South Pacific island of Palau was the first nation to ban reef-toxic sunscreens last month with other nations signaling that they may join the ban of octinoxate and oxybenzone from sunscreen products.2 Both ingredients are present in more than two-thirds of sunscreens sold in the US. Eliminating them will have a dramatic impact on sunscreen formulas, since there are very few alternatives. My October column cited six UV filters that are viable for US sun care products.
Seeking a ban on those two UV filters from sunscreen and other personal care products, the Center for Biological Diversity recently submitted a citizen petition to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The petition cites oxybenzone and octinoxate as harming corals and freshwater aquatic life, and ultimately, as threats to human health.3 The 19-page petition was supported by dozens of credible scientific citations. In October, Reef Relief, a Key West environmental group, launched a “Responsible Sunscreen” campaign aimed at consumers and businesses.4 Other groups have jumped on the ban bandwagon.5
On Deaf Ears
Those who have been reading my columns for the past several years or heard me speak at the many symposia around the country, know that I have been pleading with the FDA to take action and include the six European TEA (Time and Extent Application) ingredients for use in the US. These ingredients have been successfully and safely incorporated in sunscreens all around the world for a dozen years or more. Further, labeling sunscreens as special cosmetics, as opposed to drugs, would promote research to discover and approve more effective and safer ultraviolet filters, especially those that promote protection from UVA as well as UVB rays. The PASS (Public Access for Safe Sunscreens) Coalition in Washington promotes the approval of the TEA ingredients by the FDA and, in fact, succeeded in convincing Congress to issue the Sunscreen Innovation Act (SIA) in November 2014. Despite these efforts, including the new OTC Reform Act legislation awaiting Congressional approval, FDA is reluctant to address the approval of sorely needed UV filters that have been used around the world for years.
FDA officials will soon realize that we have a serious dilemma in UV protection; hopefully, this realization will start a serious debate to address the issue of adequate solar protection in new and improved US sun screening products.
In Other News…
Are there any other developments in the field of sunscreens? Of course! They include melanoma rates declining in young people,6 the FDA warning against the use of sunscreen pills,7 New Zealand’s repeated call for mandatory sunscreen standards8 and Hong Kong research warning of sunscreen health risks.9
An interesting report on 2000-year-old athletes’ tools for the removal of olive oil was unearthed in northwest Turkey.10 According to researchers, the olive oil was used as a sunscreen in Antiquity. Another study reported that hungry dinosaurs may have been the reason why humans needed sunscreens.11 Other articles question if astronauts need sunscreens,12 a treatise on the beauty miracles of tomatoes13 along with a report from the University of Alberta, Canada that bacterial sunscreens may explain Earth’s oxygenation.14 Those reports, and many others, will be reviewed at a later date when the issues at hand are addressed. From my perspective, nothing overshadows the dilemma that we have today in sunscreen regulations in the USA. The current regulations allow insufficient filters to protect our consumers from the ravaging rays of the sun. Without new regulations and new sunscreen safe ingredients and protocols, the incidence of skin cancer in the US will continue to skyrocket.
- http://www.wlrn.org/post/key- west- environmental-group-starts-campaign-against-some-sunscreens
- a. https://www.change.org/p/info-haereticus-lab-org-ban-oxybenzone-and-octinoxate-sunscreen-actives; b. http://suindependent.com/oxybenzone-containing-sunscreen-ban-skin-cancer/; c. http://suindependent.com/letter-editor-oxybenzone-sunscreens-not-prevent-cancer/
Alpha Research & Development Ltd
Dr. Nadim Shaath is the president of Alpha Research & Development, Ltd. in White Plains, NY. He has over 30 years of experience as chairman of the chemistry department at SUNY-Purchase and the CEO of Kato Worldwide. Recently he published his new book entitled “Healing Civilizations: The Search for Therapeutic Essential Oils and Nutrients” Cameron Books, Petaluma, CA.