Chemistry Is a Star Player in Student Athletics
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Updated March 24, 2021

Chemistry can help young athletes hit the ground running in more ways than you might think. Chemistry creates many of the products and gear that can help kids while participating in their favorite athletic activities – whether it’s track, gymnastics, swimming, soccer or other sports.

Below are a few examples of how chemical ingredients in sports and personal care products may help athletes win, on and off the playing field.

Play it safe:

Plastic helmets and other sports gear use innovative materials to help protect kids from injury on the playing fields. Helmet linings made from expanded polystyrene in different layers and densities enable helmets to absorb impact. The helmet’s shell – often made with polycarbonate – is durable and shatter resistant, but still lightweight, adding important protection for student athletes.

What you need to know about sports equipment and safety:

  • The CDC suggests that kids and teens wear the right protective equipment for their sports and recreational activities. Ask a qualified coach or physical education teacher about the best types of safety gear for a particular sport.
  • According to the CDC, concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity, even if your child is wearing protective gear, so it’s important to learn the warning signs. Learn about concussion signs and symptoms and what to do if a concussion occurs here.
  • Learn more about the best types of helmets for different types of activities on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website.

Buzz off bugs! Using insect repellent with DEET:

Pests like mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers and gnats can  be irritants for young athletes. DEET, Icaridin, Citrioldiol and IR3535 are the four most common compounds approved in the United States as insect repellent ingredients. Each compound has slightly different characteristics, but they all work in similar ways by producing an odor that repels certain annoying insects. Of these, DEET is one of the most popular insect repellent ingredients—an estimated 30 percent of Americans use DEET products every year.

What you need to know about insect repellents and DEET safety:

DEET Fact SheetRead the CDC’s fact sheet on DEET.

Keep using sunscreen:

To protect skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays, health experts agree that sunscreen use – in all four seasons – is important. Sunscreens often include the active ingredients titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which protect skin by deflecting the sun’s rays. Titanium dioxide is often a primary ingredient in sunscreen because the compound works well as a UV filtering ingredient.

What you need to know about sunscreen and safety:

For more information about how chemistry helps students during the school year, read Six Ways Chemistry Helps Kids Get Back to School.