You may have read that Hawaii is banning some sunscreens due to the extent of damage inflicted on their coral reefs. It looks as if countries like Australia may not be far behind.
According to this recent report from NPR, 14,000 tons of sunscreen are washed off swimmers and into the world’s coral reefs each year. A recent study believes two of the chemicals contained within certain SPFs contribute directly to coral bleaching and death.
If you know me, you know I am an avid swimmer and kiteboarder. I spend a LOT of time in the ocean. I want to be sure when I'm enjoying the ocean it isn't at the expense of the environment. But as a dermatologist, I am also intimately aware that swimming without sunscreen means no protection from UV rays and a high risk of skin cancer.
Can we protect our skin and the planet at the same time? The answer is we can do better.
Next time you're planning to hop in the ocean, pack a sunscreen that doesn’t list octinoxate or oxybenzone as an ingredient (these are the two specific ingredients Hawaii's legislation has identified as bleaching the reef.)
As always, we will keep abreast of the most current data available as there is still a lot of research happening around ocean environmental health and our impact.