Chemical Hazards You Don't Think Of

This year-my big goal was to become a chemical free household. I think we have done a great job so far at getting close to that goal. There are only a couple items in the house that contain dangerous chemicals. 

1) Kaseys disposable diapers

2) Sunscreen

I am afraid that for awhile the diapers will be here to stay. Yes, Kasey has had many positive improvements since her shunt revision- but unfortunately- her bladder is now on the fritz. Which means she’s back in diapers most of the time- which really does not make her happy- or me either for that matter. 

However- the sunscreen in this house is going to be hitting the trash. I bought a couple different bottles last year at the end of summer on sale. I bought them because I was unaware of the dangerous chemicals in sunscreen. I have started trying to become more informed though on these things and thanks to some friends found the Environmental Wellness Group and their wonderful lists of sunscreens with both the good and the bad described. 

EWG has a rating scale of 0-2=Low Hazard, 3-6=Moderate Hazard, 7-10 High hazard.

So tonight I sat down with all my sunscreens sitting next to me on the bed and started reading and googling. With the first one I typed in- I started feeling Horror. 

Item #1- Equate Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Hazard Score: 5

UVB Level Protection: Excellent

UVA Protection: Moderate

UVA/UVB Balance: Moderate

Sunscreen Stability: Excellent

Health Concern; HIGH

At first- I was all- this seems like its going to be okay- then I got to the health concern part and my stomach dropped. How could something we all buy to lather on our kids in summer have a high health concern? 

There are a lot of chemicals in this sunscreen with a couple of them having a very high hazard. One of this is OXYBENZONE, the nasty side effects of this are listed as being: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Use restrictions. (taken from the EWG website at:

I don’t know about anyone else- but that sounds not so good to me. 

Then there is the ALUMINUM STARCH OCTENYLSUCCINATE which has its share of nasty side effects and a slightly worse rating than the Oxybenzone: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Neurotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Contamination concerns (), Use restrictions.

Then of course- there is the fragrance and then other nasty side things in there that are “moderate” hazards rather than the nasty high ones. 

So- then I went to check the next lotion in my pile. Banana Boat Kids SPF 100. I mistakenly thought that a higher SPF meant better things. 

Almost none of the Banana Boat lotions on the EWG list were very well rated- but this one has a Red Rating of 7. This is due to the fact that it also has Oxybenzone. However, is also has nasty RETINYL PALMITATE (VITAMIN A PALMITATE) in it. It is rated at a 8 and has these nasty side effects: Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Biochemical or cellular level changes, Use restrictions (again taken from the EWG site) 

I also had Coppertone Sport High Performance Ultra Sweatproof 100+SPF. I couldn’t find the exact SPF in the database- just 80+. However- even the 80+ has some nasty things in it. It also had a red rating of 7. It has a high health concern. It also has oxybenzone, and retinyl palminate in it. 

The only sunscreen I have that is not ridiculously dangerous is the sunscreen stick that I have to use on the girls faces. Its the Ocean Potion Dab-On SpotStick SPF 50+. It had a overall score of a 3 with a moderate health concern. This is due to it containing oxybenzone. However, most of the other stuff in this sunscreen stick is “mild” if any chemical can be called that. 

After reading all this- my big concern is finding something that isn’t going to do as much damage to our skin as NOT using anything. Thankfully- EWG also has a list of sunscreens that are better alternatives than most of what you find in stores. 

From what I have been seeing and learning- the best sunscreens are the ones that mainly just contain zinc oxide. A list of all these can be found at:

Although most of the more organic sunscreens are not found in your regular supermarket- they are available on Amazon and at health food stores. 

Disclosure: All my info came from EWG’s site.