Toxic Sunscreen

Toxic sunscreen testing – Regardless of the debate on whether or not you can have too little sunshine on your skin, it is important to remember that currently there is no standard tests for monitoring toxic heavy metals contained in sunscreen creams.

Now, researchers in Greece have demonstrated that a sophisticated, but relatively straightfoward technique can be used to simultaneously determine levels of the inorganic UV filter, titanium dioxide, and several trace or toxic elements, including lead and zinc, in sunscreens and cosmetics. The results from their multi-element analysis were compared successfully with standardised data from atomic absorption spectroscopy, which suggests their approach could easily be used for quality control of these products and for regulatory testing.

Keeping an eye on anticancer drug – Chemists have devised a route to the compound, cyclopamine. This substance is found in corn lilies and causes lambs born of ewes that eat the lilies to be born with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads, a condition known as cyclopia. But, the chemists aren’t out to create a race of mutant sheep, the very same compound is known to interfere with a critical cell signalling pathway and so could be used as a novel anticancer drug.

Chicken shack solution for gun-slingers – Whatever you think of gun law, people shoot, and when they shoot they leave behind toxic lead. Japanese scientists are now using an X-ray technique to test how well soil remediation works in immobilising lead residues on gun club land. They have demonstrated that growing guinea grass and fertilising the soil with chicken guano could be the way forward. That said, it’s going to make for an awfully smelly day’s shooting.

Finally, in my SpectroscopyNOW column this week – Smoke under fire: Smoking marijuana is no less harmful than smoking tobacco, according to Canadian researchers who have looked at its toxic effects on cells. They draw their conclusion from an examination of the cytotoxicity, mutagenicity and clastogenicity of mainstream and sidestream marijuana smoke as compared to tobacco smoke. Inhalers of all kinds…beware.

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5 thoughts on “Toxic Sunscreen

  1. Thanks for the input, if I’d thought about it ahead of putting the item together, I’d have contacted you in advance for comment. Thanks for clarifying. Perhaps the point of the research is to have a straightforward method for testing in those regions of the world where unscrupulous manufacturers might be using toxic metals that pass one set of tests instead of the regulated and presumably more expensive purified alternatives.

  2. I don’t think that sunscreens contain toxic levels of heavy metals. Heavy metals are already pretty easy to detect using atomic absorbtion.

    Detecting titanium dioxide is a bit more difficult but there is a way that might appeal to the lateral thinking chemist. It is inert and insoluble in just about everything, so with a good balance and a range of solvents you could simply filter it out of the formulation and weigh it. (I have never done this but I am sure it is practical but would be very time consuming.)

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