Sunscreen Chemicals Soak All the Way Into Your Bloodstream

By now, you’ve probably been taught to gird your sun-starved skin for battle with cancer-causing cosmic rays every time you go outside. Choose a spray, choose a lotion, but by heavens, choose something! Legions of doctors, parents, and YouTube beauty influencers are unanimous on this point. But with sunscreen application evolving from a week or two at the beach every year to a constant daily slather, US health regulators want to know more about how all those photoprotective chemicals interact with people’s skin. If they sink into tissues and get absorbed into the bloodstream, that could be a problem. Then, like other over-the-counter drugs the Food and Drug Administration oversees, sunscreens should be studied to make sure they don’t mess up people’s hormones, affect their reproductive systems, or cause cancer. Such safety testing has never been done on the active ingredients in sunscreen, because those chemicals were approved decades ago, before anyone suspected they could be absorbed into the body. Now we know it’s more than just a suspicion. Today, researchers at the FDA revealed the results of a small clinical trial designed to test how four of the most common sun-filtering ...

A field assistant, Rudy Pascucci, left, and the paleontologist Robert DePalma, right, at DePalma’s dig site.

A field assistant, Rudy Pascucci, left, and the paleontologist Robert DePalma, right, at DePalma’s dig site. Of his discovery, DePalma said, “It’s like finding the Holy Grail clutched in the bony fingers of Jimmy Hoffa, sitting on top of the Lost Ark.” A field assistant, Rudy Pascucci, left, and the paleontologist Robert DePalma, right, at DePalma’s dig site. Of his discovery, DePalma said, “It’s like finding the Holy Grail clutched in the bony fingers of Jimmy Hoffa, sitting on top of the Lost Ark.” If, on a certain evening about sixty-­six million years ago, you had stood somewhere in North America and looked up at the sky, you would have soon made out what appeared to be a star. If you watched for an hour or two, the star would have seemed to grow in brightness, although it barely moved. That’s because it was not a star but an asteroid, and it was headed directly for Earth at about forty-five thousand miles an hour. Sixty hours later, the asteroid hit. The air in front was compressed and violently heated, and it blasted a hole through the atmosphere, generating a supersonic shock wave. The asteroid struck a shallow sea where the Yucatán peninsula is today. In that moment, the...