Oopsie. One Human Activity DOES Kill Coral Reefs

Sunscreen coral reef

The climate warriors are forever telling us evil humans just how toxic we are for the planet.  Most of us refuse to believe it on a regular basis.  However, a study out of Tel Aviv University on an ingredient commonly found in sunscreen over SPF-15, oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), has been found to do major damage to coral, its reproductive system, and makes it vulnerable to bleaching from the sun.  Their results were published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

“The chemical, oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), is found in more than 3,500 sunscreen products worldwide. It pollutes coral reefs via swimmers who wear sunscreen or wastewater discharges from municipal sewage outfalls and coastal septic systems,” said Dr. Omri Bronstein of TAU’s Department of Zoology, one of the principal researchers.

How the damage happens was best described in a University of Florida press release:

In laboratory experiments, the team exposed coral larvae and cells of adult corals to increasing concentrations of oxybenzone. The research team discovered that oxybenzone deforms coral larvae by trapping them in their own skeleton, making then unable to float with currents and disperse.

Given that for years the American Cancer Society and the Dermatologists of the world have been telling us humans that the sun causes skin cancer and we need sunscreen to prevent it, we’ve got a problem.

(Not really, but if we can get past all the hyperbole, and realize that the latest in Vitamin D research says that we humans get TOO LITTLE exposure to UVA-B rays due to wearing sunscreen all the time, which puts us in danger of developing other diseases and conditions including some cancers, maybe a compromise can be worked out.  Vitamin D from the sun is definitely something we all should learn about.)

So, as it happens, our good friends in Israel were helped by a few researchers in the States and they all agree: all those swimmers aren’t the problem; it’s the sunscreen.

“We found the lowest concentration to see a toxicity effect was 62 parts per trillion — equivalent to a drop of water in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools,” said Dr. Bronstein. The researchers found concentrations of oxybenzone in the US Virgin Islands to be 23 times higher than the minimum considered toxic to corals.

“Current concentrations of oxybenzone in these coral reef areas pose a significant ecological threat,” said Dr. Bronstein.

Unfortunately, that IS caused by human activity, and only human activity.

So, what is a beach-goer to do when headed out to enjoy a day with sand and surf and not come home with the pain of a sunburn?  Natural waters are not like swimming pools.  Clothing fibers are not going to clog a filter.  Yes, clothes are heavy and a pain for people who are used to lap swimming in a tank suit, but that is a possibility when worn over a suit.  There are quite a number of rash guard shirt options.  Hats with a brim are a must.  When snorkling or scuba diving, wearing a diving suit is, of course, always acceptable.  And, there is good old fashioned zinc oxide, the key ingredient in a small family of sunscreens AND diaper rash creme.  It still works after all these years.

Now, if we can just get the sunscreen industry to take the oxybenzone out of the sunscreen….

P.s. Ladies, mineral make-up has natural sunscreen in it without adding the extra chemicals.  It’s worth a try.  What really needs to be avoided is tanning beds.

H/T and Source – Watts Up With That

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.