Environmental group finds dangerous chemicals in sunscreen

Before you buy your sunscreen for the summer, watch out. A new report says some lotions are actually harming you instead of protecting you.

The Environmental Working Group released its annual sunscreen ranking, which warns against using sunscreens with toxic chemicals. According to scientists with the group, some of the chemicals in these sunscreens are dangerous.

The group recently sent a letter (pdf) to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging her to pass federal sunscreen regulations.

One in five sunscreen products cannot be trusted, the group said. Retynoil and oxybenzone are the main two. Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A. According to the National Institutes of Health, it reacts with the sun to stimulate and speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. One third of all sunscreens contain this anti-aging ingredient linked to birth defects.

Oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen, disrupts the hormone system. A spokesperson for the group that issued the ranking said that chemical can cause brain development issues and an array of health effects.

The representative said companies can get away with products that have toxic chemicals because the U.S. Food an Drug Administration has yet to issue new sunscreen regulations.

The group works to protect the population, particularly infants and children, from toxic materials and to push for federal policies that invest in conservation and sustainable development, according to its website.

What you want to look for is mineral protection from zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which protects against UVA and UVB rays. The Environmental Working Group has released a sunscreen guide online where users can find health ratings for a range of sunscreens and other products.