Scientists have reported on the development of a new method for converting soybean oil into a highly effective bio-based sunscreen active ingredient that does not carry the potential health concerns of ingredients in some existing sunscreens. The new, natural sunscreen agent could replace petroleum-derived ingredients in a variety of personal-care products, they reported at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) being held in San Fransisco March 21-25.
It was among more than 12,000 scientific reports scheduled for presentation at the meeting, one of the largest scientific gatherings of 2010.
Joseph Laszlo, Ph.D., who headed the research, pointed out that sales of sunscreens and other skin-care products that protect against the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) light have been booming. Driving the multi-billion-dollar-per-year market are consumers who are better informed about the link between overexposure to the sun and skin cancer and sunlight’s effects in giving skin an aged appearance. At the same time, however, concerns have arisen over certain ingredients in today’s mainstay sunscreens. “One, for instance, is a substance known as oxybenzone that is a suspected hormone disruptor that could contribute to the disruption of aquatic species reproduction.”
“We’re trying to provide nature-inspired skin-care materials that avoid such health concerns and at the same time have fewer adverse environmental impacts,” Laszlo said. He is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Peoria, Ill. Sunscreens are among the substances, termed “pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs),” that constitute a relatively new family of water contaminants with potential adverse health effects on wildlife and people.