Eco-Friendly Sunscreen is Healthier for People and Coral Reefs
Better options for staying safe from the sun
According to a 2008 study published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives, about 4000 to 6000 metric tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers into oceans around the world every year. And that sunscreen could be killing coral reefs. The study identified four common ingredients found in most commercial sunscreens (paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone and camphor) that have been found to contribute to the death of coral reefs.
Because of this, some marine parks (most notably those in Mexico) are now requiring swimmers to use biodegradable sunscreen.
Fortunately, this is a good move for you AND the ocean.
Each year, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group publishes a sunscreen guide that rates hundreds of sunscreens, lip balms and cosmetics with SPF protection factors. Many of the most common sunscreens that include the reef-killing ingredients above also include chemicals that can be dangerous to humans, such as oxybenzone, which is a hormone disruptor and skin allergen, and retinyl palmitate, a compound that has been shown to cause skin cancer in laboratory tests. Choosing a natural biodegradable sunscreen, therefore, isn't just a good way to protect the health of our oceans, but also your own health.
(Poster of coral reef available on AllPosters)
Buy Biodegradable Sunscreen Online
If it doesn't say it, it's not biodegradable
Here are a few popular options for biodegradable sunscreen.
Active ingredients: 9% Titanium Dioxide and 3% transparent Zinc Oxide
Going to Cancun or Cozumel? Don't Bring Chemical Sunscreens
Some Mexico water parks now requiring biodegradable sunscreen
If you're heading to the Cancun area, biodegradable sunscreen isn't just a healthy choice, it's the ONLY choice if you want to visit some of the aquatic parks in the area. The popular Xel-Ha park, for instance, bans sunscreens with any of the following ingredients.
"Benzophenone, Octyl metoxycinnamate, Octyl salicylate, Oxybenzone, Octinxate, Ethylhexyl, Homosalate, Octocrylene,Benzophenone,Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, Hexyldecanol, Dimethyl apramide, Cetyl dimethicone, Methylparaben, Polyethylene, Propylparaben, Butylcarbamate."
Other Mexican aquatic parks near Cancun and Cozumel with similar restrictions include Xcaret, Xplor and Garrafon Reef Park. Not all of these parks list ingredients that are prohibited, but they all indicate that only biodegradable sunscreens are allowed in the park.
"More than 60 percent of the world's reefs are under
immediate and direct threat from one or more local
Reefs at Risk Revisited
Slip! Slap! Slop! Wrap!
Advice from the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
They offer the following skin protection tips.
* Slip on a shirt
* Slop on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
* Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
* Wrap on sunglasses.
(Image provided by National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention)
What's The UV Index in Your Area Today?
Check the EPA's map
The Centers for Disease Control says the most hazardous time for UV exposure is between 10 am to 4 pm daylight savings time in the continental US. But the actual risk for UV exposure varies by area and can change from day to day due to seasonal and weather variations. To help consumers determine when risk is the greatest, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service developed a rating scale for UV radiation. The scale ranges from 1 (low) to 11+ (extremely high).
Click the map above or click here to see today's updated map and get information for your local area.
A score of 2 or less means low danger for the average person. A score of 6 or above indicates very high risk. Click here for more information on how to interpret the index.
(Image provided by the EPA)