Parents who want to protect their kids from sunburn and skin cancer typically apply sunscreens and many use a spray style sunscreen because it is easier to apply than a lotion. However, in recent years, many popular sunscreen brands such as Banana Boat, Neutrogena, Aveeno, and Coppertone have been pulled off of shelves after testing showed high levels of a cancer causing chemical known as benzene. More than 75 brands of the spray-style sunscreens and after-sun products were recalled.

We are all exposed to benzene from outdoor pollution and indoor pollution including vehicle exhaust, paints and detergents. Benzene is not an ingredient used in sunscreen but caused by manufacturing contamination. One theory is that there are compounds present in the spray propellants that mix to form benzene.

Sunscreen is important for preventing skin cancer. Experts recommend avoiding aerosol or spray sunscreens and use lotion sunscreens. Silent Spring Institute offers these tips for keeping kids safe from the sun. For babies and young children, opt for hats and clothing made of tightly woven fabric as a first line of defense. If you do need sunscreen, make sure to use a non-nano mineral-based lotion and avoid sunscreens containing UV-filtering chemicals like benzophenone, octinoxate, octyl methoxycinnamate, and oxybenzone. Avoid sprays that can get into the eyes and lungs. For more healthy living tips, download Silent Spring’s Detox Me mobile app at detoxmeapp.org.

Shoppers can also download the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living App to get ratings and safety information regarding sunscreens and other personal care products.  

Sources: 

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/benzene-in-sunscreen/

https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news-release/2021/07/johnson-johnson-detects-cancer-causing-benzene-some-spray

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