By Dr. Sara Hart - ND, MSOM
CO registered Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist

There may be nothing better in life than spending a hot summer day at the river or other beautiful, clean body of water! Taking a dip in the river after time on the mountain bike, gardening, horseback riding or hiking invigorates our bodies and feels great as well as it’s an excellent way to promote healthy circulation on a hot day. 

The biggest risk for anyone spending the day in the water is sunburn. UVA and UVB rays from the sun are known to damage skin in different ways. The UVA rays damage slowly, over time, accelerating the

body’s aging process. They can get through clouds and tend to be in equal amounts all through the day. UVB rays are most present in the highest heat of the day, between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. UVB rays damage the skin in the more classic sunburn fashion with the skin turning red, then blistering and peeling.

Sunscreen is a brilliant tool to help us stay safe in the sun by blocking UVA and UVB rays. However, up to 80% of the products on the market contain toxic chemicals that you may be doing more harm to yourself by applying to the skin than if you were to absorb the harmful sun rays. There are numerous chemicals in sunscreens that are known to cause problems for our health, and the health of our waterways.

The top two are:

• Oxybenzone:  This chemical is an endocrine disrupting chemical and is of great concern to our young people as well as our waterways due to its bioaccumulation. That means that once it gets into a body or the environment, it does not go away. It is of great concern to the damage of our oceans coral reefs, our rivers' fish population and all of us.
97% of Americans are considered “contaminated” by this chemical according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This contamination affects the hormone systems of the body, can contribute to hormone related cancers, endometriosis, early puberty, low testosterone, adrenal dysfunction and more.   

• Octinoxate:  This chemical is known to cause biochemical and cellular damage in humans, animals and extensively in coral reefs. It also enhances skin absorption so in its application to human skin, it draws into the body other chemicals that bond to it, making it more harmful than it is on its own. 

This week the Hawaiian government is creating the world's first ban on the sale of sunscreens that contain these two ingredients in an effort to protect their coral reefs.
Most sunscreens contain numerous other toxic compounds that may be equally harmful to our bodies and the waterways: nanoparticles, chemical fragrance, chemical dispersants used in aerosol products and many more. You can read all about chemicals of concern from the “Stream 2 Sea” website:  https://stream2sea.com/ingredients-to-avoid

Our bodies contain up to 80% water when we are well. Dehydration is a problem that affects all the organs in the body and limits the healthy functioning that our bodies are capable of in just a moments. It is truly in all of our best interest to ensure vital, clean water is abundant on our planet, and readily available to all. Reducing chemical pollutants is a task for every one of us alive today. We cannot change the past but we can surely go forward into the future with wiser and more conscientious choices for our daily lives' activities.

Choosing healthy sun protection is easy! Follow these simple steps and feel great about your skin and the environment's health:
1. Go for shade! Wearing hats and playing in shady areas is ideal sun protection.
2. UV protective clothing is more brilliant than sunscreen!
3. Rather than wearing less and exposing more skin to the suns rays, wear clothing and put shirts or bandanas through cold water to wear wet and stay cool.
4. Shop for Environmental Working Group recommended sunscreen products

Come into Stillwater Apothecary for your resources for healthy, natural living. We strive to not only provide resources for health but also to educate people on the choices we have today to make the world a safer, healthier place for all beings who walk this Earth.

References: https://stream2sea.com/ingredients-to-avoid; https://www.ewg.org/news/testimony-official-correspondence/cdc-americans-carry-body-burden-toxic-sunscreen-chemical - .WzpIpdhK

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