Self-Tanning Creams, Kodak Recycling, and Acid Rain Dentistry

Are self-tanning creams healthier for you than actually being out in the sun?

—Lauren Nivens, Cope, South Carolina

While dermatologists continue to remind us that long-term sun exposure can harm our skin, causing wrinkles, burns, age spots, actinic keratuses (layers of skin overgrowth resulting in red, scaly spots), and more seriously, malignant melanoma, many people still yearn for that sun-worshipper look.

“If you want color, creams are the safe way to do it,” say s Dr. Melvin Elson, medical director of the Dermatology Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The two varieties of tanning creams work either by staining the skin a darker color, which easily washes away, or by stimulating the skin’s melanin production, creating a more “natural” and longer-lasting effect. Cosmetic companies like Estee Lauder and Coppertone are among those marketing the “tan-in-a-bottle,” which does keep many from damaging sun exposure. “Fake tans are wonderful because they dye the skin as though the sun did it and they’re not proven to cause any skin damage or health concerns,” says Dr. Larry Jaeger, a dermatologist in Manhattan. “Some self-tanning creams even have a sufficient sun protection factor.”

Despite our dependence on the sun, using it as a cosmetic is not highly recommended, particularly in light of ozone depletion. “There are no health benefits from being in the sun. Even its nourishing qualities can be obtained from other sources, like vitamin D from fortified milk,” says Elson.


Dermatology Center
4535 Harding Road, Suite 300
Nashville, TN 37205
Tel: (615) 383-1225

Does Kodak’s recycled camera campaign really work? What does the company do with the parts? Are they recycled or reused?

There’s no greater symbol of our use-it, trash-it society than the lowly disposable camera. But that hasn’t prevented Kodak from marketing it as a product with an environmental conscience.

“Kodak prides itself on reducing waste by reclaiming and reusing valuable resources,” says Larry Morgan, general manager of Kodak’s Consumer Imaging. Since 1990, Kodak has recycled over 80 million one-time-use cameras through its closed-loop recycling program. The polystyrene covers and viewfinders are grinded down and reprocessed into new camera components. Non-recyclable parts, like batteries, are donated to charities, making this one green picture.

“The companies that will be competitive into the next century will be those that are able to reduce their energy use, rely on renewable and non-virgin materials, and design reusable and recyclable products,” says R. Hays Bell, vice president of Health, Safety and Environment for Eastman Kodak Company.

Although the Kodak Fun Saver one-time-use cameras carried a higher recycling success rate than aluminum can recycling programs in 1994 and 1995, we have to ask if one-time-use cameras make sense at all. What’s wrong with using a standard, long-lasting point-and-shoot? Without 80 million plastic cameras to recycle, Kodak could turn its full attention to the safe disposal of the tons of chemical by-products leftover from film developing.


Eastman Kodak Company
343 State Street
Rochester, NY 14650
Tel: (716) 724-9071

My family’s water supply comes from a backyard well. Could you tell me about the health effects of acid rain—more specifically, whether acid rain fights plaque on teeth?

Generally, most water supplies are derived from municipal water facilities, which regulate pH levels, but a sizable population obtains drinking water from wells, springs and even local ponds, making it difficult to balance acidity and alkalinity. According to Dr. Chris C. Park, author of Acid Rain: Rhetoric and Reality, acid rain is not known to directly affect our health, but it has been linked to some health problems.

Arnis Richters, professor of pathology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, says, “Sulfur particles that exist in acid rain can cause damage to your cells and lead to an attack on your respiratory system,” potentially leading to chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema.

And while a number of dentists admit they have never directly observed acid rain on teeth, they say it is probably not an effective plaque fighter. Observations have been noted about similar acidic solutions. Debbie Stenger, an oral hygienist with the Family Dental Group in Fairfield, Connecticut says, “Highly acidic solutions, such as lemon juice and vinegar, can cause damage to gums and eat away the enamel of teeth over a period of time.” Therefore, for healthy teeth, stay away from acidic foods and drinks—including acid rain water.