Chemicals Used in Sunscreens Found in the Bloodstream After Just a Single Application

A second study conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration showed that after only a single application, six of the active ingredients in sunscreens are absorbed by our body and can be detected in our bloodstream.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen

Are sunscreens really our allies in the prevention of sun damage? It has already been pointed out that sunscreens with chemical filters can also be harmful to the ocean ecosystem, especially coral reefs.

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This is proven by the new work of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was published in the medical journal JAMA and points out the high blood concentrations of certain compounds in chemical sunscreens from the first application.

“The results of our study published today show that there is evidence that some of the active ingredients in sunscreen products can be absorbed,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Six active ingredients found in the blood

Already last year, the FDA published a first study in May 2019 reporting on the absorption of certain compounds in sunscreens by the body. It was conducted on 24 healthy volunteers and showed the presence of the four active ingredients (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule) in samples that exceeded the recommended threshold for toxicological testing. It was the oxybenzone levels that particularly alarmed the researchers at that time. This compound, which is used in sun creams as an ultraviolet filter and is suspected of being an endocrine disrupter, “was absorbed by the body in concentrations 50 to 100 times higher than those of the other three chemical compounds,” David Andrews, a researcher at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

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For this new study, the absorption through the skin and into the body of six active ingredients used in sunscreen products was measured for a single application and when applied every two hours as recommended. Four commercially available products were tested: a lotion, an aerosol sunscreen, a nonaerosol spray, and a pump spray. The results show that when a sunscreen product is applied to the skin, even in a single application, all six active ingredients were absorbed by the body and made it to the bloodstream. They can remain there for up to 24 hours after application.

Further research needed

However, the authors of the study do not want to cause a scare. “Just because an ingredient is absorbed by the skin and body does not mean it is dangerous,” says Janet Woodcock. On the contrary, this conclusion requires further testing by the industry to determine the safety and effect of systemic exposure to sunscreen ingredients, especially in long term use”.

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Therefore, following this study, the FDA stated that it “requested additional information on the active ingredients of sunscreen products in order to assess their GRASE (Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective) status in the light of changing conditions, including the significant increase in the use of sunscreen products and the evolution of information on the potential risks associated with these products since their initial evaluation.” “We look forward to sharing further updates on this important area of research,” Dr. Woodcock concluded.

References

Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients

Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients

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