Additionally, mineral filters release carcinogenic nanoparticles one-twentieth the thickness of a human hair. Nanoparticles are not properly regulated, allowing manufacturers to cheap out on quality and safety. These particles are volatile; they can lodge in the lungs, reach the bloodstream and extensively damage living cells and internal organs. On top of it all, nanoparticles also react to UV rays faster, increasing the amount of free radicals produced and drastically increasing UV damage in the body. Additionally, sunscreen nano-ingredients have been shown to damage ecosystems as they accumulate in the food chain, disrupting hormones of animals and humans. The environmental impact of nanoparticle pollution has not been sufficiently assessed, but experts suspect that nanoparticles are highly prone to bioaccumulation.
Beware of false claims. Mineral sunscreens are commonly advertised as the “safe” alternative to chemical
sunscreens, but their chemical content is un-regulated and un-tested. Some other commonly misleading claims are products advertised as
nano” titanium dioxide and zinc oxide: all mineral sunscreens
must be delivered in nanoparticle form to efficiently block UV rays.
Understanding the Health Effects of UV Rays
Wearing sunscreen and avoiding sunburns does not mean your skin is adequately protected. UVA and UVB rays have very distinct properties when interacting with the skin. UVA rays damage skin cells called keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur. They penetrate deeper into skin tissue where they release free radicals, damaging DNA and skin cells, promoting skin aging and causing skin cancer.
UVB rays stimulate the production of new melanin and a thicker epidermis, which are your body’s
natural defense against UVA damage. They also cause sunburns
, which are the body’s natural warning
and protection system against UVA damage. UVB rays are necessary to build the precursors to vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D is a hormone essential to calcium absorption, promoting bone health. It is also essential to a strong immune system and helps protect against breast, colon, kidney and ovarian cancer. About one-fourth of North-Americans have low levels of vitamin D, which has been associated with increased cardiovascular mortality, colon cancer mortality, breast cancer, skin cancer, metabolic disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, upper respiratory tract infections and other microbe-caused infections.
Basically, for a sun protection lotion to be effective, it should block cancer-causing UVAs while allowing healing UVBs to interact with the skin.