This is alarming news and information indeed. Little did we know before. We always believed that we were doing the responsible thing by vigilantly protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by regularly applying a recommended sun blocking cream or sunscreen to our skin before leaving the home. Now, it turns out that while we are looking after our skin, we are actually contributing to even more grievous damage to our earth’s critically endangered ecosystems.
This time it is the turn of the earth’s coral reefs. This is horror news indeed because coral reefs are the most vulnerable and threatened ecosystems at the moment. Coral reefs, including the famous Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australasia, are a critical source of life for all micro marine species. And these species, in turn, act as natural food sources to the larger marine species which we subjectively refer to as fish.
It is evident from research that our regular sunscreen is doing grievous damage to coral reefs. Four poisonous chemicals are included in our regular sunscreen. These are Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Benzophenones and Octinoxate. The sunscreen manufacturers continued to lie through their teeth in declaring that these chemical compounds were reef safe. But they are not. The warning here is to not apply any such sunscreen before entering the ocean’s waters.
These compounds will interact within seawater with Hydrogen Peroxide which inhibits phytoplankton growth. Phytoplankton is necessary nutrition for coral reefs’ minute dependents. Fortunately all is not lost for the earth’s coral reefs. But there is much, lots of it, work that needs to be done to save the remaining reefs and get them to grow again. As far as sunscreen goes, we can now apply reef friendly sunscreen.