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Oxybenzone vs Nemo

Oxybenzone vs Nemo

November 01, 2016

We all know and love Nemo and if you have had the privilege to snorkel/scuba a living coral reef, I’m sure you would agree the incredible beauty and aliveness that lies beneath the oceans surface. There is a lot of contributing factors to the decline in our coral reefs, but as you will learn below we can all make an effort each time we go and play outdoors by using a sunscreen that is chemical free. It’s up to us to create our children’s children future, I’m optimistic that our corals can be abundant and flourish with more respect and awareness. 

Below is an article from ABC Australia.

Sunscreen chemical Oxybenzone blamed for harm to coral reefs

Sunscreen contains a chemical that scientists believe is causing massive damage to coral reefs worldwide and that threatens their very existence, researchers have warned.

Oxybenzone — also known as BP-3 or Benzophenone-3 — is found in more than 3,500 sunscreen products, said the study, published in the latest edition of the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

The chemical gets into the water via swimmers and wastewater from coastal septic systems.

Oxybenzone, which blocks ultraviolet rays, causes "gross deformities" in baby coral, "damages their DNA, and, most alarmingly, acts as an endocrine disruptor", the study said.

The effect is forcing "the coral to encase itself in its own skeleton, leading to death".

The study was led by marine scientists from Virginia, Florida, Israel, the US National Aquarium and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue," said lead author Craig Downs of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia.

"Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment."

Oxybenzone is not only found in sunscreens, but also lipstick, mascara and shampoo.

The European Union's International Chemical Secretariat has already established it as a threat to human health and called for it to be replaced with another, safer ingredient.

Tonnes of sunscreen lotion emitted into reef areas each year.

Worryingly for coral, scientists observed the harmful effects of oxybenzone even when it was highly diluted — as low as 62 parts per trillion, or the same as "a drop of water in six-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools", the study found.

Far higher concentrations of oxybenzone were measured near coral reefs in Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands, ranging from 800 parts per trillion to 1.4 parts per million.

"This is over 12 times higher than the concentrations necessary to impact on coral," the study said.

Researchers estimate that between 6,000 and 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen lotion are emitted into coral reef areas each year.

Oxybenzone makes up between 1 and 10 per cent of those lotions.

Since not all reefs are located near tourist areas, scientists believe about 10 per cent of global reefs are at high risk of exposure to sunscreen lotion damage.

Global scientists announced earlier this month that a massive global coral bleaching event was already under way, made worse in some parts of the world by warming waters brought on by El Nino.

Coral reefs have been in decline for decades and face multiple threats including pollution, climate change, storms and disease.


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