Three-fourths of sunscreens don’t work as they claim and may contain harmful chemicals

May 23, 2017 by  
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Before heading to the beach, most people make sure to pack a bottle of sunscreen. After all, the ultraviolet rays can be seriously damaging and no one wants to get  skin cancer . But it turns out some ingredients in hundreds of common sunscreens don’t work as well as advertised, according to a new report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Additionally, 73 percent of 880 sunscreens that were tested contain “worrisome” ingredients people may not want to slather on their skin. Authors of the report , which was released on Tuesday, examined the SPF protection, chemical ingredients and overall safety and effectiveness of numerous sunscreens , moisturizers, and lip balms. Then, they compiled a list of the best- and worst-rated products to help consumers make the best – and healthiest – choices when preparing to have fun in the sun. Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the environmental advocacy group and lead scientist of the 2017 Sunscreens Guide, said of the findings, “Sunscreens are really mismarketed, and as a result, people who depend on them think they are far more powerful than they really are.” According to dermatologist Dr. Dawn Davis, who did not participate in the report and works at the Mayo Clinic, the SPF is a ratio of how long a person without sunscreen can be in the sun without becoming red. In his own words, “if you’re standing on the equator at high noon and it would usually take your skin one minute without sunscreen to become red and irritated, SPF 15 means you can stand in that same sun exposure for 15 minutes.” Related: Hawaii aims to ban coral reef-killing chemical sunscreens Most sunscreen brands offer products with high SPF, sometimes even over 100. Thought to be beneficial, they are actually misleading, says Lunder. “People who buy high-SPF products are more likely to get burned because they assume they’re getting better and longer-lasting protection,” she said. It is for this reason that she supports the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendation to choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 (which would block 97% of UVB rays) and suggests one reapply it every few hours. SPF protection can also vary, depending on its age, how it has been stored and lab tests find that SPF levels can vary wildly. There is also something to be said about the questionable ingredients in certain sunscreens. While most chemicals in the product create a barrier to prevent damage from UV rays, other chemicals create damaging effects. Two ingredients, in particular, oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, consumers should avoid. According to Lunder, oxybenzone “is a hormone disruptor that mimics body hormones and affects reproductive tract and other hormones.” And Retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, has been linked to the development of skin tumors under direct UV light. More research needs to be conducted on the latter, but authors of the report advise consumers to avoid sunscreens that contain both ingredients. All in all, the report recommends sunscreen products that are safe and offer adequate sun protection. The EWG says outdoor enthusiasts should look for three things: an SPF between 30 and 50 to protect from UVB rays, zinc oxide and titanium oxide to ward off UVA rays, and no oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. + Environmental Working Group Via CNN Images via  Bella Mecia , Pixabay

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Three-fourths of sunscreens don’t work as they claim and may contain harmful chemicals

Hawaii aims to ban coral reef-killing chemical sunscreens

February 20, 2017 by  
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For a long time we’ve been told to slather on sunblock to protect our skin from harsh ultraviolet radiation, but as an unintended consequence, filters in those sunscreens are washing off into the oceans and likely harming coral reefs . Now one Hawaii lawmaker is taking action. Fearing damage to the state’s fragile coral ecosystem, Senator Will Espero introduced a bill that would ban sunscreen with octinoxate and oxybenzone. Researchers detected concentrations of oxybenzone 30 times higher than levels thought to be safe for coral in Hawaii waters. The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources said last September, “Recent studies have shown that oxybenzone causes deformities in coral larvae (planulae), making them unable to swim, settle out, and form new coral colonies. It also increase the rate at which coral bleaching occurs. This puts coral reef health at risk, and reduces resiliency to climate change .” Related: 40% of the top sunscreens don’t meet official guidelines for sun protection Haereticus Environmental Laboratory executive director Craig Downs, whose research influenced Espero’s bill, told KITV4, “Oxybenzone – it kills [coral]. It turns them into zombies if it doesn’t kill them outright.” The bill would ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate unless a user has a medical prescription. Unsurprisingly, sunscreen companies like L’Oréal have fought back, claiming there’s not enough evidence to validate such a ban. But Espero told Scientific American the science is on his side, and many people – from fishers to sailors to ocean sports enthusiasts – are behind the measure. According to TreeHugger, 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash off into oceans every single year, possibly exacerbating the worldwide coral bleaching issue. If you’re worried about sunburn but also want to consider your impact on the environment , check out the Environmental Working Group ‘s safe sunscreen guide . The organization lists several brands whose products meet their criteria. Via TreeHugger Images via Michael Dorausch on Flickr and Pixabay

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Scientists to seek ‘line in the rock’ marking new man-made Anthropocene epoch

August 22, 2016 by  
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Scientists are about to embark on a global hunt for a “golden spike,” a physical point in the geological record marking the shift from one epoch to another. In a quest to convince skeptics in the geology community that humanity’s impact on the planet has been so profound that we have actually left the Holocene epoch (entirely recent) that began 11,500 years ago after the last major ice age, the researchers are looking for the marker that will enable them to formally declare a new epoch known as Anthropocene (from anthropo, for “man,” and cene, for “new”). In recent years there has been an increasing push among some geological scientists to officially declare a new epoch. They cite man’s harmful impact on the climate system, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, habitats, biodiversity and plant and wildlife. A working group of experts was set up to investigate possible evidence of a new epoch. They will present their findings to the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC) in Cape Town, South Africa, which runs from August 27 to September 4. The group then plans to look for a “line in the rock” that would mark the beginning of the Anthropocene. There could be a formal declaration that we are living in the Anthropocene by the International Union of Geological Sciences in just two years. Related: China’s coal use peaks in a ‘real turning point’ for the fight against climate change Scientists say the Anthropocene likely started in the mid-20th century, specifically July 16, 1945 , the date of the Trinity test of the world’s first nuclear weapon. Since the end of World War II, carbon pollution from the burning of fossil fuels increased dramatically. The Earth has naturally alternated between cold and warm periods throughout the planet’s geological history, but the Anthropecene would mark the first time in Earth’s history that humans have altered global average temperatures through our relentless pumping out of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. In the past, climate change occurred because of natural oscillation, Dr. Colin Waters, secretary of the Anthropocene Working Group, told The Independent. “But really in the last century we have had such a huge impact that we’re actually taking the planet away from that natural oscillation and changing the trend for global temperatures from what should have been a cooling trend to a warming trend.” + Working Group on The Anthropocene Via The Independent  Images via Pexels and Public Domain

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Scientists to seek ‘line in the rock’ marking new man-made Anthropocene epoch

Climate change could be driving U.S. tornadoes southeast

August 22, 2016 by  
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The world’s weather has become more unpredictable as global temperatures rise – and new research shows that U.S. tornadoes have been shifting southeast over the last few decades. The trend shows natural disasters moving away from Tornado Alley and towards Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. A recent study in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology detailed twisters over a period of 60 years. Two groups were studied: tornadoes taking place during the cooler temperatures of 1954-1983 and the warmer decades of 1983-2013. The researchers found that tornados are increasingly shifting out of Tornado Alley, which encompasses northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to what is called Dixie Alley. Related: Physicist wants to build 1,000-foot walls to prevent tornadoes from destroying the midwest The new region includes Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee – which experienced that most significant increase in tornado days between the two time periods. Is it a coincidence that this shift is taking place during a huge, climate change-fueled, global temperature spike? Scientists aren’t sure, but they suspect there is a link. Rising sea temperatures lead to faster surface evaporation, which, when paired with rapidly rising air, creates more likelihood of thunderstorms . These more frequent summertime storms can naturally lead to more tornadoes. The closer you get to the warm coastal waters, the more damp, rising air you will encounter, which could account for the southeastern migration of twisters over time. More research is needed to say this with certainty, but it certainly adds up. Via IFLScience Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 )

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Climate change could be driving U.S. tornadoes southeast

EWG’s 2016 best and worst sunscreen lists are outis your favorite listed?

May 30, 2016 by  
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The heat is on, and the sunscreen should be, too. Choosing the best sunscreen for your family is an increasingly challenging task, especially as companies change their formulas every few years. When it comes to the most effective protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays, not all sunscreens are created equally. Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiles a list of the best and worst sunscreens on the market each year , broken down by products for adults and kids. This year’s update has been published, and some of the brands listed might surprise you. The search for the perfect sunscreen is often intense. If it smells funny, feels weird, or is too difficult to apply, it might be difficult to get some members of your family to even use it in the first place. At the heart of the matter, though, is that many sunscreens on the market simply don’t perform the way they promise. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made some progress in recent years with labeling regulations that prevent manufacturers from making claims that are patently misleading (remember “sweatproof” sunscreen?) but the agency has dragged its feet when it comes to pinning down rules for labeling efficacy rates. That leaves folks in a bit of a lurch, but consumer education groups do the heavy lifting to help people make important decisions long before the summer sun begins sizzling our skin. Related: 6 Handy apps for preventing skin cancer all year long EWG also publishes an annual list of the best and worst scoring sunscreens for kids, both of which have been updated for 2016. EWG rates all sorts of personal care and cleaning products based on the environmental impacts and potential health hazards related to chemical ingredients. The resulting score is intended to help consumers better understand the risks associated with different products, thereby alleviating some of the agony of choosing the best sun protection for your family. Via Mother Jones Images via Rachel Zack/Flickr and  Shutterstock

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EWG’s 2016 best and worst sunscreen lists are outis your favorite listed?

Urban Farming 101: How To Start An Urban Farm

May 2, 2016 by  
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Urban farming is a trend that appears to be here to stay, and is even catching on at airports, shipping containers and rooftops. I recently attended a lively session at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference in Lexington,…

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Urban Farming 101: How To Start An Urban Farm

GUIDE: Effective Non-Toxic Bug Repellents for You and Your Family

July 27, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock With concerns over Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus, bug bites can be not only uncomfortable, but particularly worrying. Of equal concern for many families are the questionable ingredients in many commercially available insect repellents. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released a report that provides exhaustive reviews of common bug spray ingredients, along with their Guide to Better Bug Repellents . Read on to find out key steps you and your family can take to protect against bugs while enjoying the summer, such as choosing a less harmful bug spray, wearing proper clothing when outside, and knowing the signs of a bad bug bite. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bug bite treatment , bug bites , bug repellant , Environmental Working Group , insect spray , lyme disease , non-toxic , west nile        

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Detox Your Lipstick: 9 Perfect Pucker Shades Without Harmful Cosmetic Chemicals (Slideshow)

September 22, 2011 by  
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Photo: cerromijares /Creative Commons We’ve all heard the stats: Women who wear lipstick end up eating nearly four pounds of the stuff each year. And if you’re not paying attention to the ingredients in your favorite pucker-up color, you could also be ingesting countless chemicals and toxins linked to everything from cancer and allergies to reproductive and developmental problems. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database analyzes the listed ingredients in thousands of different products … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Detox Your Lipstick: 9 Perfect Pucker Shades Without Harmful Cosmetic Chemicals (Slideshow)

Buildup to Greenbuild: A Conversation with Terry Montgomery (Video)

September 22, 2011 by  
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30,000 green building professionals are coming to Toronto for Greenbuild in October; this series will try to explain Toronto to them. Today: another conversation with an interesting Toronto architect. Terry Montgomery is a principal in Montgomery Sisam Architects , a firm claiming a “commitment to design excellence and sustainability is rooted in the belief that buildings must play a dignified and lasting role for their occupants and the wider community.” … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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California Approves BPA Ban for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups

September 3, 2011 by  
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Good news for parents in the Golden State: This week, the California State Senate voted to ban the chemical bisphenol A from all baby bottles and sippy cups sold in California. BPA was adopted in the 1950s to make hard plastics, but the chemical has been linked to serious health problems including diabetes, breast and prostate cancer, and heart disease. The new law, sponsored by Environmental Working Group and authored by State Assembly member Betsy Butler (D-Marina Del Ray) and State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), will go into effect July 1, 2013, and it will require manufacturers to use the least toxic alternative substance for those products. Read More > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bisphenol A , BPA , California , consumer advocacy , diabetes , Environmental Working Group , ewg , toxic chemicals

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