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Toxic 3 Os Used in Sunscreen

  • 18 Sep 2021
  • 2 min read

Why in News

Recently, a petition has been submitted by some activists to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reclassify toxic 3 Os (Oxybenzone, Octinoxate and Octocrylene) used in sunscreen.

  • They demanded that chemicals be shifted to “Not Generally Recognized As Safe & Effective” (GRASE Category II).

Key Points

  • Toxic 3 Os:
    • Oxybenzone (OBZ), avobenzone (AVB), octocrylene (OCR) and octinoxate (OMC) are UltraViolet (UV) filters commonly added to chemical sunscreens.
    • These UV filters are known to widely contaminate the environment through a variety of anthropogenic sources, including sewage discharge.
  • Related Concerns:
    • The 3Os are active ingredients present in more than two-thirds of all sunscreens and they pose a threat to public health, marine life and coral reefs.
    • Octocrylene in sun protection products degrades into benzophenone.
      • Benzophenone is a carcinogen that can also interfere with key hormones and reproductive organs.
    • They cause human cell damage that has been linked to cancer, disrupt hormones, have been found in breast milk, blood and urine and are known allergens.
    • Oxybenzone is particularly toxic to corals at concentrations as low as a few parts per trillion.
      • They wash off people’s bodies when they swim and contaminate through waste water runoff and cause ‘zombie’ coral which looks healthy but is unable to reproduce, coral bleaching as well as other issues.

Source: DTE

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