USA — Researchers asked U.S. regulators to pull some sunscreens from the market, including brands such as Coppertone, Banana Boat and Neutrogena, saying they’ve found evidence of a potential carcinogen.
Scientists petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to remove from sale all sunscreens containing the active ingredient octocrylene. Products made with the chemical may contain benzophenone, a suspected carcinogen that also can interfere with key hormones and reproductive organs, according to a group led by Craig Downs, executive director of the nonprofit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory that studies risks to health and the environment.
A trade group called the report misleading.
Some 2,400 sun-protection products are made with octocrylene and “we don’t know what their safety is,” said Downs, who filed the petition Thursday. “The FDA doesn’t know what their safety is and it’s unconscionable that the FDA would allow something that we don’t know if it’s safe or not.”
Concerns about sunscreens began heating up in 2019 when the FDA asked manufacturers for safety data on chemical ingredients, including octocrylene. In May, an independent testing lab found levels of another probable carcinogen, benzene, in several products, leading to some recalls.
FDA research shows that the body absorbs enough of sunscreens’ chemical ingredients to warrant further testing. Yet there’s no indication companies have provided the safety data the FDA requested two years ago, said David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization.
The FDA “takes seriously any safety concerns raised about products we regulate, including sunscreen,” said Courtney Rhodes, a spokeswoman. The agency “will continue to monitor the sunscreen marketplace to help ensure the availability of safe sunscreens for U.S. consumers,” while it evaluates the contamination concerns, she said.