Chemicals in sunscreen are damaging the environment
Recent studies have shown that sunscreen in the water is killing coral reefs. It has been found that over 14,000 tons of the stuff enters our oceans, and the chemicals can cause disastrous effects like mass coral bleaching and the collapse of the surrounding ecosystem.
There are two chemicals in sunscreen that are problematic, oxybenzone or octinoxate. There are two main types of commercial sunscreen available, organic and inorganic ultraviolet (UV) filters. According to researchers, these two chemicals are harmful because they are organic UV filters. Although the word organic sounds like a good thing, in this case, they are very damaging to coral reefs because an organic filter absorbs and converts UV light while an inorganic filter reflects it.
In Key West, officials are ready to take action. The Key West City Commission is about to pass a new measure that would ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate, which harm coral reefs. The move is supported by a wide variety of people including dermatologists, marine captains, and school kids. The only living coral barrier reef in North America is about 6 miles from the Florida Keys.
The state of Hawaii is the first state in the nation to completely ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate. This is due to damage to their precious coral reef ecosystem. The reefs support Hawaii’s biodiversity and protects the beaches from erosion. Hawaiians sometimes call their reef system “The Rainforest of the Sea”. It supports over 1,250 species of marine life that are unique to Hawaii alone.
The government of Palau signed legislation that bans certain sunscreens entirely by 2020. It is the first entire country to do so. Retailers who violate the ban will see fines of $1,000 each. It is especially important to Palau because it is a volcanic island surrounded by several small coral reef islands. The country is proactive about protecting it’s waters. In 2015, it made almost the entire island a marine protected zone.
Natural ways to protect yourself from the sun
Luckily, sunscreens with toxic chemicals aren’t your only option. Brands with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are effective alternatives that are commercially available. You can also try a CBD sunscreen and get three benefits in one. Your skin absorbs the beneficial CBD oil, you get protection from the sun, and you are not putting harmful chemicals in the ocean.