Lets start with a number:
14,000 tons of sunscreen are believed to wash into the oceans each year
When you swim with sunscreen on, chemicals like oxybenzone can seep into the water, where they’re absorbed by corals. These substances contain nanoparticles that can disrupt coral’s reproduction and growth cycles, ultimately leading to bleaching.
Even if you don’t swim after applying sunscreen, it can go down drains when you shower.
On May 1, 2018, lawmakers in Hawaii passed a bill banning the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, another harmful chemical.
Below is general advice available promoted across the eco friendly internet.
What to be aware of when buying sunscreen.
- Use of reef-safe sunscreen free of oxybenzone. Choose mineral-based sunblocks that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide—“non-nano” size particles that can’t be ingested by corals.
- Forget about Aerosols. The chemical ingredients are microscopic and are inhales into the lungs and dispersed airborne into the environment.
- Cover up with long sleeve shirts, hats and long pants. Be Sunsmart.
Many chemical sunscreens are dangerous for our reefs and can disturb our hormones and may cause skin sensitivities and rashes. Mineral sunscreens, though generally regarded as a safer option, may be photoactive. Titanium dioxide can react with sunlight to create free radicals that can damage the skin, damage our genetic material and equally damage the sunscreen’s ingredients rendering it less effective.
As with many eco friendly solutions we are constantly solving a large problem with a smaller problem and the cycle continues, which is good for the planet.
Here is a great research article that gives a deep analysis of sunscreens, their ingredients and the effect of coral reefs.