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The hidden hazards of sunscreen

There are several chemicals of concern in certain types of sunscreen.

What’s the best way to get rid of old medications?
Alex, Edmonton, Alta.

The next time you find yourself decluttering the medicine cabinet, make sure you don’t flush old medications down the toilet and don’t throw them in the garbage either. The safest way to dispose of old medications and over-the-counter health care products is to take them back to your local pharmacy.


Flushing unused or expired prescription medications down the toilet or throwing them in the garbage means they’ll eventually find their way into our streams and rivers — also known as our drinking water. And you’re also playing a role in keeping our oceans and landfills free of pollution.



Do I need to worry about toxic ingredients in sunscreens?
Julia, Halifax, N.S.


Unfortunately, there are chemicals of concern in sunscreens. Four substances commonly found in chemical sunscreens — parabens, cinnamate, benzophenone and camphor derivatives — are thought to be the culprits killing coral reefs around the world.


This summer, choose a sunscreen without parabens. You might also see related ingredients on the label like methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben.


All are widely used in cosmetics as a synthetic preservative; they are easily absorbed by skin and should be avoided.


To choose a safer brand check this sunscreen guide. hewg.org/2010sunscreen/


Lindsay Coulter gives you the straight goods on living green. Send your questions to queenofgreen@metronews.ca. For more great tips, visit The David Suzuki Foundation at davidsuzuki.org