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Best Sunscreen For You And Our Marine Life

Summer's here!

Most of us are no longer being asked to shelter at home. Cities are opening up. People are heading outside. Fresh air is good. We strongly believe each local area still needs to follow CDC guidance regarding face coverings and social distancing depending on how well the virus is under control. Whether you're in an area where it might be safe to have a small neighborhood backyard BBQ or you're taking a walk with your family members, protecting yourself from harmful UVA and UVB rays are as important as protecting yourself from the virus. Savvy shoppers know there are all kinds of new forms of sunscreen on the market; natural, whipped, tinted, but the basics to protect your skin from skin cancer haven't changed.
 
In addition to considering SFP factors when shopping for the best protection for your skin, those of us who live by and love the ocean often factor which type of sunscreen to use based on its effect on coral reefs and other marine wildlife. It's also important to remember the sunscreen you apply may not stay on your skin. When we swim or shower, sunscreen may wash off and enter our waterways. Common chemicals used in thousands of products to protect against harmful effects of ultraviolet light threaten corals and other marine life.

For information and guidance, we turned to NOAA

How sunscreen chemicals can affect marine life:

    • Green Algae: Can impair growth and photosynthesis.
    • Coral: Accumulates in tissues. Can induce bleaching, damage DNA, deform young, and even kill.
    • Mussels: Can induce defects in young.
    • Sea Urchins: Can damage immune and reproductive systems, and deform young.
    • Fish: Can decrease fertility and reproduction, and cause female characteristics in male fish.
    • Dolphins: Can accumulate in tissue and be transferred to young.

"Scientific evidence has been mounting in recent years on how sunscreen may be harming delicate coral reefs. Though they look like rocks, corals are actually animals closely related to jellyfish. Corals are very sensitive to changes in the water they live in, especially shifts in temperature and increases in contaminants. When subjected to sudden changes, corals sometimes become “bleached”: they lose the algae that gives them color and nutrients. Bleaching can result in the death of the coral." The sunscreen ingredients that can harm coral reefs are:

  1. Oxybenzone
  2. Octinoxate
  3. Octocrylene
  4. Benzophenone-1
  5. Benzophenone-8
  6. OD-PABA
  7. 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor
  8. 3-Benzylidene camphor
  9. nano-Titanium dioxide
  10. nano-Zinc oxide

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safe as long as they are “non-nano,” since nanoparticles are very small and can be consumed by coral reefs.

How Can You Protect Yourself And Our Marine Life? 

Seek shade between 10 am & 2 pm, use Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) sunwear, and consider wearing mineral sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide or choose a sunscreen labeled “reef-safe,” which doesn’t contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, or octocrylene.

Beachpedia's List of "Reef Friendly" Sunscreens: Note This List is Not Comprehensive

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