Safe Sunscreen for Sea Life?
Are we responsible divers? I have found a very interesting article published by www.thegreenguide.com that I ought to share with all those divers who whish to respect and preserve nature.
‘Coral reefs are under increasing threats, not only from global warming but also from us, tourists who want to appreciate their beauty. A study published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) revealed that chemicals and preservatives used in a number of sunscreens triggered viral infections in coral, causing them to bleach and die. The study targeted sunscreens that use chemical UV barriers (which absorb UV rays before they damage your skin) as opposed to physical UV barriers (which reflect UV rays before they reach your skin), and found that the sunscreen chemicals benzophenone and cinnamate caused the most harm. The researchers also found that preservatives called parabens, common in sunscreens, promoted coral bleaching.
It’s easy to imagine that one of us slathered with sunscreen wouldn’t cause much harm to ocean life, but the EHP study noted that the 78 million tourists who visit areas with coral reefs leave behind the impressive amount of 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen annually, because roughly 25 percent of what you put on gets washed off.
Since there are no regulations on what is ‘biodegradable’ or ‘reef-friendly’ buy sunscreens buy sunscreens with plant-based ingredients, which break down faster than petroleum-based ingredients do after they washed off. Also, opt for physical UV barriers (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) rather than chemicals. Fortunately, what’s better for the coral tends to be better for you: The same chemical preservatives and UV blockers that damage reefs may interfere with your hormones.’