Are some kinds of sunscreen dangerous?

Posted at 10:37 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 00:37:43-04

An environmental group is warning the public of potential dangers in many sunscreen brands, but other organizations say their fears are unfounded.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) released their annual guide to sunscreens Tuesday. In the study, the group tested 750 different products and found 3/4 of them to be either inadequate in sun protection or containing harmful chemicals. According to EWG, there are a number of sunscreens to avoid for children, and a number that are safer.

There are several categories EWG gives on whether or not a sunscreen is safe or not. The study claims spray-on sunscreens can be harmful to children's lungs. The group also warns that sunscreens that contain oxybenzone can trigger allergic reactions. EWG also warns against products that contain retinal palmitate, which they say may speed the growth of tumors.

However, these claims are disputed by organizations like the Skin Cancer Foundation, who tried to debunk these claims last year. They claim both chemicals have been heavily studied, and the only danger found in their use came when the subjects were exposed to an abnormally high amount of the chemical.

Local dermatologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, Joel Cohen says it's important to know what you're putting on your skin, but also questions the study's credibility. 

"Some of this data is actually very old data which is based on rodent studies," Cohen said.

Cohen worries that studies like this will dissuade people from using sunscreen, which would put them at risk for melanoma. 

"There are key messages, sunscreen with the right ingredients is safe. Number two, it's also effective. Number three is it should be reapplied every couple of hours and number four it should be applied in significant quantities," he said.