You might not know one of the important benefits to wearing sun protective clothing while you are on your next beach vacation. Certain ingredients in sunscreens can have a harmful impact on the beautiful coral reefs that you traveled to visit. Coral reefs are beautiful to visit and are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems but it is up to us to help protect them.
Coral is a living creature related to the sea anemone and isn’t just pretty to look at when you’re snorkeling. According to the Smithsonian Institution, corals are crucial, irreplaceable homes for up to a quarter of all ocean species. The Smithsonian says they’re also valuable to people, providing food, shoreline protection, tourism jobs and even medicines, which make them worth $30 billion to more than $170 billion a year.
According to the Environmental Working Group, An estimated 25 to 60 million bottles worth of sunscreen chemicals wash off into coral reef areas each year. About 25 percent of sunscreen applied to the skin is released into the water within 20 minutes of submersion. We know how important it is to keep the sun protection on our bodies for those of us who need to keep our skin protected while in the water.
When we shower, the chemicals found in certain sunscreens wash off our skin and can pollute wastewater that ends up in the ocean as well. This is problematic because Researchers at Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia and Marche Polytechnic University in Italy found that exposure to oxybenzone – a hormone disruptor and allergen in 70 percent of the non-mineral products listed in EWG’s latest Sunscreen Guide – can cause juvenile coral to be fatally trapped in their own skeletons. The Italian study also identified butylparaben, octinoxate and a chemical called 4MBC, all commonly found in sunscreen, as toxic to coral health.
A great way to minimize your impact is by wearing UPF 50+ sun protective clothing and using sunscreen on exposed areas of skin like your face, hands, and feet. Divers Alert Network, the largest scuba diving safety association, says applying lotion to only the neck, face, feet and back of hands can reduce sunscreen loads into the water by 90 percent.
If sunscreen must be used, EWG agrees with the recommendations of the Professional Association of Underwater Instructors and the National Park Service that you should use sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.Though some sunscreens say they’re “reef safe,” those claims are unregulated and can be deceptive We have many sunscreens on our website that fit into these recommendations: http://bit.ly/2i7xA7Q
Next time you head out to go scuba diving remember to grab your Coolibar Rash Guard and Swim Tights for full coverage protection and save the sunscreen for the exposed areas of your body. Shop sun protective swimwear here: http://bit.ly/2i7MM4O
Read more about this topic from the EWG: http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2016/07/do-chemicals-your-sunscreen-damage-fragile-coral-reefs