Is your Sunscreen Hurting Coral Reefs?
Many salt-water parks that offer snorkeling now are requiring visitors to use biodegradable sunscreen. Although there is no conclusive research that sunscreen ingredients harm marine life, it makes sense that they could pose a risk, says Bryan Dias from the Reef Environmental Education Foundation in Florida. “[Sunscreen] is pretty viscous; it doesn’t really break down,” he says. “Coral, for example, needs a certain temperature and amount of light, plus salinity within a narrow range, to grow. Putting a large amount of anything in the water can change that,” he says. Fortunately, most sunscreens sold under the natural label are biodegradable because they do not contain petroleum-based products. But make sure you reapply your sunscreen often when using this type of product, since it tends to dissolve more easily and may lose its effectiveness.
One excellent solution good for both you and the coral reefs, Dias says, is to opt for swim clothing that offers UVA and UVB protection. For more information, go to: www.coolibar.com, www.solareclipse.com, www.sunfriendlyproducts.com or www.sunchasers.com.