Monday, February 10, 2020

Why Reef-Safe Sunscreen Is Important

Reef-safe sunscreen…I keep hearing about these products but I admit, until I started to get ready for my upcoming Caribbean vacation, I never really gave it my full attention. So I started Googling the term and what I discovered was a bit alarming!

I read that up to 6,000 tons of sunscreen (the equivalent of 25 million bottles) are estimated to wash off human bodies and into coral reefs around the globe each year.  And yes, that’s a big problem!  It seems that some of the ingredients in sunscreen may damage the world’s coral reef systems and other more!

When the chemicals in sunscreen get into the water, it can actually cause damage to its DNA. This limits their growth and the ability to develop in a healthy way… basically, coral can’t reproduce as it should.

However, coral reefs are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the National Ocean Service, the chemicals in sunscreens can also adversely affect other types of marine life. For example, the growth of green algae may be stunted; defects can occur in young mussels; sea urchins can be born deformed; fish can suffer fertility and reproductive problems; and dolphins can suffer tissue buildup of the chemicals.

Several states, including Hawaii and Florida, are taking legislative steps to ban sunscreen products that pose a danger to the environment. In July of 2018, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two common chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, which many researchers worldwide have deemed potentially harmful to aquatic life.

Although this news is grim, there are steps that we can take as individuals to help this environmental problem:

·       Look for reef safe sunscreens which are becoming increasingly available. When sunscreen is marked reef-safe, that means it is free of active ingredients known to be toxic to coral reefs

·      Wearing UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing protects your skin and the ocean. If you wear the UPF sun-shirt and then you apply sunscreen to your face, neck, the back of your hands, behind your ears. You’ll be using a lot less damaging product.

·       Avoid aerosol sunscreen. Much of what you spray leaves a residue on the sand which is then washed back into the ocean. Your lungs will be healthier too, as aerosol sunscreens are easily inhaled.

No comments:

Post a Comment