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Local dermatologist offer tips after experts find sunscreen chemicals in people's bloodstreams

Experts say sun protection still important

LYNCHBURG, Va. – When WSLS Reporter Magdala Louissaint met Scott Barber Wednesday, like many people he stepped out to enjoy the sun.

“Came out for my lunch break, get some rays, get some fresh air,” Barber said.

Barber said he uses sunscreen only when he’s going to the beach or hiking, and he’s not worried about a new FDA study that has found sunscreen ingredients in the bloodstream. 

“It’s just another study of doom and gloom of something that's bad for you. I think in the long run, it’s probably going to be better off having the protection than being scorched in the sun,” Barber said.

Dr. Ry Bohrnstedt of Seven Hills City Dermatology sees 50 patients a day for skin care. He said, “The study’s not saying they’re harmful to your health. It’s just saying that some of the chemicals are found in the bloodstream. If you think about it, when you use sunscreen, you’re using it all over. You’re putting a lot on.”

These are the four ingredients scientists are looking into: Avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule. They are chemicals Bohrnstedt says can be found in the spray sunblockers. 

“If you want to stay away from the chemicals, it should just say titanium dioxide or zinc oxide," Bohrnstedt said. “Just check the ingredients and look what the active ingredients are. Like this one we have is zinc oxide and that’s the only active ingredient as far as the sunblock in there.”

Bohrnstedt also suggests wearing sun-protective clothing.

“I think the research is going to show, hopefully, down the road, that, hopefully, they’re safe. There’s no study that shows that the zinc and titanium are harmful. If you’re worried a little bit about safety, definitely worth still using sunscreen,” Bohrnstedt said.


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