Sunscreen is being looked at as a potential threat to the ocean, specifically the coral in it. Chemical sunscreens wash off our bodies when we swim, sometimes triggering a reaction in coral that causes it to bleach out and die. With an estimated 4,000- 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen sliding off swimmer’s bodies each year, sunscreen can be a terrible threat to the coral in the ocean. There are some sunscreens that are ocean-friendly, such as Badger and Soleo Organics SPF 30+. These sunscreens don’t utilize petrochemicals, parabens or silicone, which are the things that harm the coral.
There are a number of ingredients that are commonly used in sunscreens that are believed to cause a variety of problems for humans, and that certainly aren’t doing the environment any favors when they are introduced. One such ingredient is oxybenzone, which is believed to be a hormone distruptor and can cause allergic reactions in some users. It seems that the problems only occur when large amounts of this ingredient are used on skin, but again, the fewer non-natural materials and chemicals that are washed off skin and into the ocean, the better.
Sunscreen has many chemicals in it that have been proven to kill coral reefs. There is up to 6000 TONS of sunscreen washed off people each year and it could indeed contribute to the shrinking coral reefs. This can’t be proven right now because the same chemicals in sunscreen are also in other products that are more heavily used. These other personal care products are most likely responsible for the chemical damage to coral reefs, not sun-screen.
The most important thing to do, if you’re concerned with protecting the purity of seawater and groundwater, is to use biodegradable products. You can find all variety of biodegradable soaps, detergents, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, etc., and that includes sunscreen. Try Mexitan or Carribean Solutions varieties of sunscreen, and always look for the phrase “100% biodegradable” on any product you use that will go down a drain or into the sea.
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