By Isabelle Z.
If you think you’re doing something good by slathering sunscreen on yourself and your kids before hitting the pool, you might want to think again. A new study places sunscreen firmly on the list of products that can do more harm than good as Russian scientists discover the destructive effects of chlorine in swimming pools on sunscreen.
Researchers from Lomonosov Moscow State University have discovered that the world’s most popular active sunscreen ingredient, avobenzone, breaks down into something far more sinister in chlorinated water. Two of the chemicals it produces upon mixing with the water, phenols and acetyl benzenes, are of particular concern because of their toxicity. This reaction takes place on your wet skin when the sunscreen reacts to UV radiation and chlorinated water, and the chemicals have been linked to problems like immune system damage, infertility, and cancer.
In swimming pools that use copper salts to make the water look blue, this reaction is even worse. In that case, the sunscreen can break down into bromoform, a substance that has been linked to nervous system disorders, liver problems, and kidney problems.
In addition to sunscreen, avobenzone is often used in moisturizers, creams and lipsticks that offer SPF.