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Does Sunscreen Affect Coral Reefs?

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    Shaun Forest

Sunscreen, often known as sunblock, comes in a variety of forms, including lotions, gels, sprays, foams, and sticks, and is used to absorb or reflect the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, preventing sunburns.

In most cases, there are two types of sunscreens on the market: chemical sunscreens and mineral sunscreens. Physical or mineral sunscreens build a layer on top of the skin that works as a shield and reflects damaging rays, whereas chemical or organic sunscreens absorb UV rays.

Does Sunscreen Have an Impact on Coral Reefs?

Yes. According to recent studies, sunscreen compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, benzophenone, titanium, and zinc oxides end up in our surroundings. Sunscreens do not last indefinitely on our skin. When we swim or shower, it enters the water bodies. These pollutants have a negative impact on marine life and can even kill coral reefs.

Coral reefs are an important economic and environmental resource that are a vital part of the environment. Climate change, pollution, and global warming are all factors to consider. "Is recycling effective in reducing global warming? How do you do it? "Coral reefs are known to be threatened by pollution, illnesses, and unsustainable fishing techniques. Researchers have revealed that chemicals included in most skincare products, including sunscreens, have a significant impact on coral reef productivity. Every year, 4-6 thousand tonnes of sunscreen penetrate coral reef ecosystems around the world, according to the US National Park Service.

Various types of sunscreen have different effects on coral reefs.

Sunscreen has an entirely different effect on coral reefs than it does on humans. Sunscreens include oxybenzone, which is extremely hazardous to immature coral reefs. It is known to cause DNA damage and to alter the endocrine system. Even a modest amount of this chemical can deplete coral reef nutrients.

In the absence of a symbiotic interaction, coral reefs undergo bleaching, which causes them to lose their colour. This chemical accelerates the bleaching process, albeit it is mostly due to the increase in temperature.

Chemical sunscreens were outlawed in Hawaii.

Chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate will be banned in the Pacific nations of Palau and Hawaii from 2020 and 2021, respectively, due to these negative consequences. Similarly, the Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Aruba, as well as the US Virgin Islands, are considering banning oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene-containing sunscreens by 2020.

How can we limit the harmful effects of sunscreen?

We can't stop using sunscreen since it protects us from skin cancer and sunburn. However, while purchasing sunscreen, it is critical to select and analyse the type carefully. Here are a few ideas that might be useful in this situation:

  • Raise public awareness. Being knowledgeable about the product, its chemical components, and possible side effects.
  • Mineral sunscreens are preferable than chemical sunscreens. Coral reefs are unaffected by titanium and zinc oxides. As a result, sunscreens that include these should be prioritised.
  • As people become more aware, there is a greater need for reef-safe sunscreen. Make a point of looking for such a product, as it is now widely available.
  • Instead of aerosol sunscreens, opt for lotion-based sunscreens. Spraying such a substance leaves an unpleasant residue in the air and on the sand.
  • It is always preferable to avoid the use of sunscreens. By avoiding swimming in the middle of the day, wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and spending more time in the shade, you can use less products.
  • The government can incentivize developers and provide financial incentives for environmentally friendly sunscreen production.

Finally, some thoughts

The coral reef is an important element of the environment, and we can occasionally hurt it without realising it. A modest change in our lifestyle can contribute to the beauty of our planet.