As millions of us who play and work under the bright sun dutifully slather our bare skin with creams, oils and sprays, consumer safety activists continue to blast the government for failing to ensure the safety of these sunscreens.
The latest target of concern is the use by sunscreen manufacturers of nanosized particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. A new report based on several preliminary studies says these atom-sized additives have the potential to cause serious harm.
That follows last week's report that the Food and Drug Administration has known for a decade that almost half of the most popular sunscreens contain an ingredient that may actually accelerate the growth of skin cancer cells.
"Nanosunscreens have the potential to cause serious human and environmental harm, but there is nothing stopping companies from selling them," says the report by the international environmental and public health advocates.
And consumers are pretty much on their own when it comes to determining what's safe to slather on their skin. Labeling is often inadequate or inaccurate. And not even the Consumer Safety Protection Commission, which ensures the safety of the items that Americans buy, is stepping up for sunscreen shoppers.
"It's not our responsibility. Sunscreen safety is FDA's job," says Alexander Filip, deputy director of public affairs for the commission. But, he added: "Our chairman has publicly addressed industry groups warning them about use of nanomaterials without notifying us or their customers."