Sunscreen Chemicals Accumulate in Body at High Levels

FDA study looked at six common ingredients; proposed rule to test safety remains on hold

A recent FDA study of six active ingredients in sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate) found they led to maximum plasma concentration rates ranging from 3.3 ng/mL to 258.1, depending on the chemical and whether it was applied to the skin in the form of a lotion or spray. A total of 48 healthy participants were randomly assigned to use one of four sunscreen products comprising lotions and sprays. Participants applied sunscreens to 75% of their bodies once on the first day and 4 times on days 2 through 4. Researchers collected 34 four blood samples over 21 days from each participant, finding that concentrations of the chemicals increased after each day of application. This suggests they accumulated within the bloodstream. All of the ingredients continued to exceed the FDA safety threshold of 0.5 ng/mL on day 7, and two of the ingredients, homosalate and oxybenzone, remained above the threshold on day 21. FDA says under the CARES Act, the agency is required to propose a revised sunscreen order by September 27, 2021. A spokeswoman for the Personal Care Products Council said, "There will be no deadline for FDA to issue a final order, but if and when such an order is issued, it may not take effect for at least 1 year after the proposed administrative order."

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