As with so many things in parenting, choosing a sunscreen for kids can be confusing and anxiety-provoking. You don't want your kids to get sunburned or have other skin damage that can lead to premature aging and cancer later in life. But neither do you want to coat them in sunscreen — and get yelled at while doing it — only to find out later that it's loaded with chemicals that may cause other health problems.
Can you just tell me what *&#%! sunscreen to buy?<p>No, sorry, we can't.</p><p>But you can choose one from <a href="https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/best-kids-sunscreens/" target="_blank">our list of Best Scoring Sunscreens for Kids</a>. We can also teach you how to shop, which is especially helpful when you don't have access to the web. Knowing what to look for on the label will help you make the best choice for your kids.</p><p><strong>Avoid:</strong></p><ul><li>Spray sunscreens and bug-repellant-and-sunscreen combo sprays</li><li>SPF greater than 50</li><li>Oxybenzone (in the active ingredients)</li><li>Fragrance</li><li>Retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A</li></ul><p>We don't recommend spray sunscreens or those with SPF over 50, so eliminate those right off the bat. Sunscreen sprays pose <a href="https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/executive-summary/#.W1oJh9hKhcC" target="_blank">inhalation risks</a> and may not offer a thick and even enough application to protect against the sun's rays. Meanwhile, sunscreens with SPFs over 50 provide only <a href="https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/whats-wrong-with-high-spf/#.W1oJqthKhcA" target="_blank">slightly better protection</a> than those with low SPF values, and they have a worse balance of protection, especially for UVA rays. But they often fool people into thinking they can stay outdoors longer. We don't recommend bug repellant and sunscreen combination products because you don't necessarily need one just because you need the other, so why use the chemicals unnecessarily?</p><p><strong>Choose:</strong></p><ul><li>A mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (in the active ingredient(s))</li><li>If you must choose a chemical sunscreen, look for avobenzone (3 percent; in the active ingredients)</li></ul><p>Avobenzone reduces UVA damage that can lead to skin aging and cancer. However, choose products carefully: Avobenzone is often used in combination with other chemical active ingredients, many of which are hormone disruptors.</p>
Help! Sunscreen is messy and frustrating and has to be reapplied so often! What’s the best way to get it on my kids and keep it there?<p>We can relate. Putting sunscreen on wet, fussy kids can suck all the joy out of a relaxing summer day. But then again, so can a sunburn.</p><p>First, dress kids in shirts and shorts, even at the pool. Reducing the amount of sunscreen needed by covering your kids up with fabric means you've cut your battle in half or more. Shirts and shorts help protect their skin during hikes and play time out of the water, and rashguard-type clothing can be used on top of (or instead of) swimsuits. Plus, kids' shoulders and backs are prone to serious sunburn — especially when they're playing in water — so using a barrier of clothing between their skin and the sun is simple and important. Add a hat and you've reduced your kids' chances of major sunburns and skin damage.</p><p>Second — and sorry if we're boring you — but avoid the sun as much as you can, especially with infants and young children. Plan to bring kids in for lunch or a nap midday, when the sun's rays are strongest and the risk of UV damage is highest. And come equipped with a plan for shade — whether it's a tree at the park, a pop-up shade tent or a dash for an umbrella-covered spot at the pool. In short, don't go outside unless you have a plan to give the kids a place to sit, eat and hide from the sun for periods of time.</p>
EWG’s Top Tips: Sunscreen Should Be Your Last Resort<p><strong>1. Wear Clothes.</strong></p><p>Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun's UV rays, reducing burn risk by 27%.</p><p><strong>2. Plan Around the Sun.</strong></p><p>Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky.</p><p><strong>3. Find Shade — or Make it.</strong></p><p>Picnic under a tree or take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade, reducing the risk of multiple burns by 30%.</p><p><strong>4. Don't Get Burned.</strong></p><p>Red, sore, blistered skin means you've gotten far too much sun.</p><p><strong>5. Sunglasses Are Essential.</strong></p><p>Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation.</p><p><strong>6. Check UV Index.</strong></p><p>The UV Index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent sun overexposure.</p>
By Katie Day
An emerging concern among ocean scientists, stewards and beachgoers is the impact that certain chemical sunscreens are having on the marine environment. This has led to bans on the sale and use of chemical sunscreens in states and island communities such as Hawaii, Key West and Aruba, and a proposed federal ban in all U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries containing coral reefs. There has also been a surge in the production of "reef friendly" sunscreens — but what does that actually mean, and how safe are these alternative sunscreens to the marine environment?
How Do I Know If a Sunscreen Is "Reef Friendly"?<p>Unfortunately the term "reef friendly" is not regulated, so you can't always trust products with this description. It's important to actually check the "active ingredients" label on the back of your sunscreen or personal care product to ensure that reef-harming chemicals are not included. The size of minerals can also have an impact. Be sure to use micro-sized (or non-nano) mineral sunscreens to avoid nanoparticles, as these smaller particles can be toxic in high concentrations.</p><p>It's also advised to stick with lotions and avoid spray or misting sunscreens, especially those that contain titanium dioxide as it can be harmful to your health if inhaled. Finally, it's always good to use products that <a href="https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/sustainable-travel-tips-for-spring-presented-by-scott-dunn" target="_blank">cut back on single use plastic packaging</a>, either by using containers that are reusable, have high recycled content or are made out of biodegradable plant-based materials like cardboard.</p><p><strong>Check the Label</strong></p><p>Make sure your sunscreen does not contain the following harmful substances on the <a href="http://haereticus-lab.org/protect-land-sea-certification/" target="_blank">HEL list</a>:</p><ul><li>Oxybenzone</li><li>Octinoxate</li><li>Octocrylene</li><li>4-methylbenzylidene camphor</li><li>PABA</li><li>Parabens</li><li>Triclosan</li><li>Any nanoparticles or "nano-sized" zinc or titanium (if it doesn't explicitly say "micro-sized" or "non-nano" and it can rub in, it's probably nano-sized)</li><li>Any form of microplastic, such as "exfoliating beads"</li></ul>
How Else Can I Protect Myself From the Sun, and Our Coasts From Harmful, Chemical Sunscreen?<p><strong>Use Sun Management</strong></p><p>Even mineral-based sunscreens can negatively impact fish and coral reefs at high concentrations. The best thing we can do is limit products when recreating in high use areas. Effective sun protection methods include a balance of:</p><ul> <li>Avoiding sun exposure during peak sun hours (10 am – 2 pm)</li></ul><ul> <li>Covering up- Wear hats and clothing (can be UPF or even just regular)</li></ul><ul><li>Using a more reef friendly sunscreen on exposed areas</li></ul><p><strong>Spread the Word and Advocate for Bans on Reef Harming Sunscreens</strong></p><p>In addition to changing our actions and purchasing decisions to protect the marine environment, it's also important to spread awareness about the issue to friends, family and community members. At the local level, ensure that your town's stores are offering "reef friendly" sunscreen products, and encourage them to stop the sale of harmful products (feel free to <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/160AnY-efer1p__OcdL-unDSVAy5nohRt/view?usp=sharing" target="_blank">share this handout</a> with your community).</p><p>You can also advocate for local legislation that bans the sale and use of toxic sunscreens. For instance, in 2018, <a href="https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/hawaii-passes-first-ever-ban-on-reef-harming-sunscreens" target="_blank">Hawaii passed the first ever statewide ban on oxybenzone and octinoxate sunscreens</a>, soon after, island nations including Palau, Bonaire and Aruba followed suite. Due to widespread community support, the Florida Keys were also able to pass an oxybenzone and octinoxate sunscreen ban in Key West, but chemical companies have been working tirelessly to try and revoke this important legislation through the use of statewide preemption — <a href="https://florida.surfrider.org/?p=1914" target="_blank">learn more here</a>.</p><p>At the federal level, you can ask your federal representatives to support the <a href="https://francisrooney.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=450" target="_blank">first federal bill to ban oxybenzone and octinoxate sunscreens in National Marine Sanctuaries</a> with coral reefs! National Marine Sanctuaries are home to some of the ocean's most biologically diverse and culturally significant marine areas, and we need to ensure that these critical areas are protected from harmful chemicals, in addition to other damaging practices like oil and gas extraction. </p><p>Please call your <a href="https://www.house.gov/representatives" target="_blank">House</a> representatives in Washington DC and ask them to support HR 1834 — Defending Our National Marine Sanctuaries from Damaging Chemicals Act of 2019, and ask your <a href="https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm" target="_blank">Senate</a> representative to support or sponsor a similar bill.</p><p>Learn more about "reef friendly" sunscreens, the negative impacts of chemical-based sunscreens and get a list of some great sunscreen options <a href="http://www.beachapedia.org/Reef_Friendly_Sunscreens" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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By Anna Reade
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By Carla Burns
Experts predict mosquito and tick bites and subsequent infections will continue to rise as warmer climates expand insect habitats and populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that pest-borne diseases are "a large and growing public health problem in the United States." Cases of diseases from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the U.S. from 2004 to 2016.
By Kamila Abdurashitova
Perfumery might seem like a fairly benign business. It's about personal scent more than anything else. But as one of the largest global luxury industries, perfume-making can have a significant impact on certain plants and animals valued for their rare scent profiles. Most perfume formulations are hidden behind one word on perfume labels, usually "Parfum" or "Aroma," which makes it difficult for a consumer to know if a product is made using ethically sourced ingredients. Sustainability of raw materials used in perfumery has not always been a primary concern for consumers, but environmental consciousness regarding the issues seems to be growing.
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