Is Sunscreen Safe?

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When you are planning to spend a long day in the hot sun, it is not unusual to have a bottle of sunscreen on your person at all times. This is because it is an efficient resource to help protect skin from harsh sunburns and dryness. However, it alone is not enough to protect people from skin cancer, and allows you to absorb harmful chemicals through your pores. In fact, if these chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, are exposed to extreme amounts of heat radiation they can actually increase your chances of skin cancer. Almost all sunscreen companies use them in their manufacturing process and have brought negative outcomes to both the human species and ocean ecosystems.

Most people tend to use the largest amounts of sunscreen when they are at the beach. Unfortunately, this has become a massive problem for our coral reefs. When the ocean washes off the sunscreen from people’s bodies it migrates to the reefs and the oxybenzone chemicals begin to interrupt their growth and reproduction process by bleaching the coral. So far 6,000-14,000 tons of sunscreen has washed off our bodies into the ocean and has made many drastic changes to our environment. For example, the coral reefs have many jobs; they act as a home to one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, they provide us with 50 percent of our oxygen, and they protect coastlines from tropical storms. So if the reefs continue to die at this rapid rate, so will many marine life species, and humans will be forced to live in an unsafe environment.

There can be numerous actions taken to protect the coral reefs. Hawaii has been the first and only state to ban sunscreen products that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, but that does not mean there can not be personal measures taken to improve the environment on your own terms. Companies like Sun Bum, Neutrogena, and many more sell low-priced products that do not contain the chemicals hurting the reefs and are easily accessible at multiple stores. The environment needs more attention and a fast paced plan immediately in order for many species to begin to thrive again.