Beach 720x360I was recently at a conference and when I left to go to dinner with a few colleagues, the organizers handed us each a goodie bag. I didn’t want to carry a bag full of swag so I sifted through and said, “ooh, I’ll just take the travel-size sunscreen.” Then my friend Terry Gardner said something very important that I’d never thought of before: Be careful what sunscreen you use if you will be going in the ocean. Certain sunscreens contain chemicals including benzone that can give coral a lethal virus.

Look for natural sunblocks that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide instead of chemical blocks like oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate, and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor, which are known to cause coral bleaching. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a list of sunscreens that are also safer for humans.

Great advice for everyone heading into the ocean. Thanks, Terry!




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2 Comments On "Wear Sunscreen That Doesn't Harm the Ocean"
  1. Ann S|

    Thanks for passing this on! I think of myself as environmentally conscious, but haven’t really thought a lot about this…

  2. Nate McGraw|

    PADI(Professional Association of Diving) have done extensive research on this as Divers get very close to Coral for obvious reasons… I know when diving with any reputable company in the past they would most likely tell you to forgo any sunscreen.
    PADI has recently updated there article on dive safe sunscreen.

    PADI – Scuba Diving and Sunscreen – Updated:

    “Bud Gillian, a biologist, shared a link with us from NOAA’s website after reading the original article. It’s a bulletin issued by the US National Park Service in regards to sunscreen and recreational diving. In it, sunscreen is described as a “double-edged sword”

    Sunscreens are among the products we are encouraged to use liberally to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays. However, researchers are finding that while protecting humans, some compounds in many sunscreens can harm the coral on our reefs. Researchers testing the effects of sunscreen on corals explain that chemicals in sunscreen can awaken coral viruses. The coral then becomes sick and expel their life-giving algae. Without these algae, the coral “bleaches” (turns white), and often dies.”

    NOAA – National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior:

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