Volume 16, Issue 33 - August 14 - August 20, 2008

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Letters to the Editor

We welcome your opinions and letters – with name and address. We will edit when necessary. Include your name, address and phone number for verification. Mail them to Bay Weekly, P.O. Box 358, Deale, MD 20751 •
E-mail them to editor@bayweekly.com. or submit your letters on line, click here

Safe Sunscreens Revisited

Dear Bay Weekly:

In a recent Dock of the Bay article [Vo. xvi., No 16: July 10), you addressed concerns about ingredients in popular sunscreens according to the Environmental Working Group. I am afraid you got your information wrong.

  In the article you warned against using products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and identified them as toxic chemicals that can be absorbed into the body. If you read the report from the Environmental Working Group, this is not the cases with rub-on products, and the ingredients appear in some of the Group’s highest-rated products. There is some suspected concern about sprays and powders with these ingredients. However, there is disagreement even here.

I am on the board of the Nicolay Foundation, which is devoted to finding a cure for melanoma and educating people about the dangers of sun exposure. We find it hard enough to make people aware of the dangers and to use sunscreens. It is that much more difficult when they are warned away from two of the most effective ingredients in sun blocks.

It also appears to me from talking to friends in the medical community and reading that the community of dermatologists has not, at this point, accepted the Environmental Working Groups study as a valid report based on good science. It would be wise for people to consult with their dermatologist about any concerns raised in this report.

–Gary Haynes, Annapolis

Editor’s note: We appreciate this careful reading and clarification. The original report’s evaluation is ambiguous (see the next paragraph), and our interpretation may have overemphasized the cautions implied in the words “healthy skin” and “exposures would be minimal.”

“Micronized and nano-scale zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreen provide strong UVA protection, and are contained in many of our top-rated products. Repeated studies have found that these ingredients do not penetrate healthy skin, indicating that consumers’ exposures would be minimal. Powder and spray sunscreens with nano-scale ingredients raise greater concerns, since particles might absorb more easily through the lungs than the skin. Studies of other nano-scale materials have raised concerns about their unique, toxic properties.”

Follow the Osprey of Summer

Dear Bay Weekly:

It has been a whirlwind summer tagging young osprey. Seven birds were tagged, from South Carolina to Delaware to Massachusetts. One suffered a fatal injury (not related to the transmitter) only a couple of days after being tagged. The transmitter was recovered, so it was free to put on another bird.

The first maps and bios of all the new birds are posted on the website: http://www.bioweb.uncc.edu/bierregaard/migration08.htm

It will be a very busy fall at map HQ following six young plus Homer, born and tagged in 2005, who will be joining the flock of youngsters heading south in the fall.

–Rob Bierregaard,

University of North Carolina–Charlotte

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