If you’re heading out on a vacation to a a tropical locale or you engage in water sports such as diving or boating, you should know that the type of sunscreen you choose can affect the delicate balance of our coral reefs. A study published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology shows that certain sunscreens can be toxic to coral reefs. The damage has been linked to particular ingredients within the products. You can, however, look for sun protection that is safe for reef species. Keep reading to learn more about the simple step you can take to protect this particular aspect of our environment.
A simple check of the ingredients can indicate whether your desired product is safe for aquatic environments. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two commonly used chemicals in sun protection that are not biodegradable and pose a danger to the reefs. Other ingredients that are toxic to coral reefs include oxybenzone, octinoxate and butylparaben. Fortunately, there are now reef safe sunscreen brands like Coral Isles that are specifically formulated with ingredients that are not harmful to the reefs and other living aquatic creatures.
You may wonder how just the small amount of sunscreen you put on your body can have such a devastating effect on reef and other water species. First, it’s important to understand that the individual effects of our actions are multiplied extensively, as thousands of individuals come in contact with the oceans in which coral reefs live. The sunscreen ingredients mentioned above can destroy reef in various ways. Some prevent coral from reproducing and act as an endocrine disruptor, leading young coral ultimately become enclosed in their outer skeletons. Other ingredients release tiny particles that, over time, play a role in the problem of coral bleaching. Also problematic are ingredients that stimulate the growth of certain algae that kill the reef population.
While contamination from the ingredients of sunscreen and other products isn’t the only contributor to the killing of our coral reefs, it has been shown to be problematic. You can take simple proactive measures to do your part in limiting the decline of the reefs. Take care to choose safe sunscreen products if you will be swimming, diving, boating or fishing in a water system containing coral reef species. Reefs provide numerous benefits such as inclusion in prescription drugs, protection of marine wildlife and economic contributions to tourism.
Now you know about the toxic nature of some sunscreens to ocean life and reefs. Be sure to choose your sunscreen wisely.