A new, worrying study has emerged, as it turns out the sunscreen we use is killing the corals.
The link between the coral reef and the sunscreen people use, might not be visible from the beginning. And it wasn’t for the authors of this study as well. The idea came to them as they were speaking to a local vendor on a Caribbean Beach they were vacationing on.
The vendor complained about the huge oil slick tourists leave in the waters after they leave. At first, scientists didn’t understand what this was all about, but they quickly came to realize the sheer amount of tourists bathing in the same waters is a problem. All the sunscreen they wear washes of in the Caribbean sea water and acts much the same way as a regular petrol oil spill.
From there, it didn’t take them long to think about what this was doing to the corals underwater. They quickly started the tests and what they uncovered was shocking.
First, the corals were indeed harmed by all the sunscreen. What happens is that the chemical in the creamy product we use coats the corals and basically strips them of the ability to feed. Not being able to get any nutrients turns the corals a pearly, ghostly, sickly white.
Secondly, another completely shocking thing is just how little sunscreen is needed to damage the waters. A quantity the size of a pea, dropped in a body of water equal to the amount of six Olympic swimming pools is sufficient to damage the ecosystem there.
What’s worse, an amount close to 14 000 thousand tons of sunscreen ends up in the ocean every single year. This turns out to be huge damage to the coral reef.
And taking a swim while coated with UV protection cream is not the only way the chemicals in it make their way towards the beautiful corals. It also happens when you wash your hands or when you shower. Because, just as all roads lead to Rome, all pipes lead to the Ocean in the end. So, you might not even be at the beach. You might be in the middle of your busy town, but wearing sunscreen. When you get home and take a shower, another beautiful row of corals will turn white because of that.
But, luckily for us, not all sunscreens commercialized out there contain the chemical in question. It is called oxybenzone and it can thusly be avoided. Ewg.org has published a list of safe sunscreens one can use, in order not to affect the environment even further.
Image Source: www.pixabay.com