What You Need to Know Before You Pack for Vacation
Heading somewhere tropical for spring break? When packing, be sure the sunscreen you’re planning to bring is safe for you and for ocean life. If it contains octocrylene or oxybenzone (each known to have a negative impact on the human endocrine system) it may be banned from your vacation destination.
How These Widespread Toxins Wreak Havoc in the Environment
Up to 70 percent of sunscreens on the market in the United States contain oxybenzone. Research studies show that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in our oceans every year and harmful sunscreen chemicals shed by swimmers may be toxic to marine creatures and contribute to coral reef decline. According to researchers from Sorbonne Universite in France, octocrylene accumulates in coral as fatty acid esters that could be toxic to the marine organism.
Craig Brown, executive director of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, conducted a study of Hanauma Bay along the southeast coast of Oahu in Hawaii. He found the lowest levels of oxybenzone were 30-parts-per-trillion and the highest levels were 29,000-parts-per-trillion. The toxic limit of the ingredient is 10-part-per-trillion.
“If it continues, all of the near shore stone structures or reef structures will begin to disappear within the next 10-15 years,” says Brown. “That will cause massive erosion of the beach when you get a swell. The pollution will cause Hanauma Bay to lose its value as a major tourism attraction.”
Getting Banned Around the World
As a result, Hawaii is the first state in the United States to ban the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing octocrylene or oxybenzone. The law takes effect in January 2021, stating that the chemicals “cause mortality in developing coral; increase coral bleaching that indicates extreme stress … and causes genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms.”
Key West, Florida, also recently voted to ban the sale of sunscreens containing octocrylene or oxybenzone. Like Hawaii, the ban in Key West is set to go into effect January 1, 2021.
There is a living coral reef about six miles off the Florida Keys. “We have one reef, and we have to do one small thing to protect that,” said Key West Mayor Teri Johnston. “It’s our obligation.”
It’s not just parts of the United States that are noticing the effects of these harmful sunscreen ingredients and taking action. In late 2018, the Pacific archipelago of Palau became the first nation to ban sunscreen containing the controversial chemicals. The legislation was based in large part on a 2017 report from the Coral Reef Research Foundation that found widespread sunscreen toxins in the popular tourist attraction Jellyfish Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
There is a Safe Alternative
Not everyone is a supporter of the ban. Some retailers worry that there aren’t enough effective sunscreens available that are also environmentally friendly.
Fortunately, pure haven offers a safe option. Our sunscreen does not contain octocrylene or oxybenzone. It’s formulated with non-nanoparticle titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, tested and registered to meet SPF 30 FDA standards. It protects from both UVA and UVB rays. It also contains aloe vera and green tea extract to further hydrate and protect skin. Contact your pure haven Consultant to order your sunscreen in time for your next vacation and keep yourself, your family, and the ocean safe.
(10 Jan 2019). Sunscreen, cosmetics may harm coral reefs: Study. The Economic Times.
Lardieri, Alexa. (20 Apr 2018). Hawaii Bill Will Ban Sunscreens That Harm Reefs. U.S. News & World Report.
Schwartz, Matthew S. (6 Feb 2019). Key West to Ban Popular Sunscreen Ingredients to Protect Coral Reef. National Public Radio.