International research teams found the highest concentrations of Oxybenzone–a very toxic chemical in most sunscreens–around coral reefs in oceans teeming with tourists, like those near Hawai‘i and the Caribbean.
Did you know?
25 to 60 million bottles worth of sunscreen chemicals wash off into coral reef each year.
Between 6,000-14,000 tons of sunscreen enter coral reef areas around the world each year.
According to sea water testing, concentrations of sunscreen were 12 times higher in oceans around Hawaii and the Caribbean.
Most of the sunscreens sold in stores are formulated with the following toxic ingredients:
- Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3)*
- Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate)
- 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor (4MBC); allowed in Europe and Canada, not in USA or Japan
Oxybenzone, in particular, is one of the most common ingredients and can be found in over 3,500 commercial brands of sunscreen. This chemical badly alters coral DNA, making the coral more susceptible to fatal bleaching. It also acts as an endocrine disruptor, causing baby coral to encase itself in its own skeleton and ultimately die.*
All of the chemicals listed above can harm our coral reefs and the ocean's fish, plus they can cause humans to experience hormone imbalances and even reproductive issues. Although there are other factors such as global warming, pollution and human activities that threaten our coral reefs, we should not ignore the fact that the toxic ingredients in sunscreen damage our bodies and oceans' ecosystems.