Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sanibel and Sunshine: Things to Know Before You Go

We are full throttle into summer, the days are hot and sunny and though off set by other factors, visitors should not be mislead. Neither the cooling waters of the Gulf nor the balmy breeze through the trees will protect you from the sun's rays. If you want to be outdoors, the only real defense against sun burn is staying in the shade.

But, hey, who is going to come all the way to the beautiful and tropical Island of Sanibel and stay in the shade all day?
You know you will want to jump into the sea, take a dip in the pool, bike the Island or in some way immerse yourself in the inviting embrace of el sol.

But before you slather up, there are some things to keep in mind about the efficacy and impact of using sun screen. According to recent research, some sun tan lotions are more harmful than beneficial.

A form of vitamin A is added to some sunscreens to minimize the aging effects of the sun. What’s not to love about that? Potentially plenty: Researchers with the National Toxicology Program say retinyl palmitate–a vitamin-A compound used in at least 40 percent of American sunscreens–may speed up the development of skin cancer–related tumors and lesions when used on skin hit with sunlight.

And Vitamin A isn’t the only controversial ingredient slipped into some SPFs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, common block chemicals, are linked to allergic contact dermatitis and photocontact dermatitis (irritation caused when certain chemicals are on skin that’s exposed to sunlight), as well as hormone disruption, in lab animals. But your sun screen can not only damage you, it can damage the environment as well.

Twenty thousand tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers, divers, and surfers into the oceans every year, eventually affecting marine life, according to a 2008 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. And coral reefs are getting especially creamed. Researchers say sunscreens with octinoxate, oxybenzone, parabens, or camphor derivatives are killing hard corals (which could negatively impact biodiversity and reef ecosystems). None of this is a problem if you’re hiking, biking, or sunbathing on dry land. But if you plan to swim in the sea, slather on a biodegradable sunscreen that doesn’t contain ingredients that are mean to marine life.

Before using any sunscreen, make sure it has not expired, has been stored properly, and that any medication you are on will not make you more prone to burning.

Sanibel sunshine awaits your arrival, but do play it safe!

1 comment:

Samba said...

This post was written to encourage everyone to research their sunscreen and in no way indicating sunscreen should not be used. It should, at all times. Here are some links to learn more about cancer and sunscreens: