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Is Your Sunscreen Harming Ocean Life?

Posted by Kristen Creed on

Your sunscreen could be toxic — to you and to the environment. How? Because it might contain oxybenzone, a chemical filter found in many popular cosmetics, especially sunscreens — 80% of them to be exact. And its main purpose? To absorb UV rays. But it’s harmful, both to our bodies after we apply it, and most immediately to our oceans — where it ultimately ends up.

In fact, an alarming 14,000 tons of sunscreen containing the toxic chemical, oxybenzone, end up in our oceans each year. Once there, it bleaches coral, prevents the growth of new baby coral and alters coral’s DNA. The negative effects of oxybenzone in the oceans continue to multiply as many organisms, (and we!) depend on the life of these coral reefs.

It takes about one drop of oxybenzone per six and a half Olympic-sized pools to cause serious damage. And it’s not only damaging to coral, but the many species of marine life that live in them and depend on them to thrive.

And because the food chain is, well, the food chain, this ultimately affects many more species, including these: 

Others will argue that warmer ocean waters, pollution and overfishing are contributing heavily to this problem, as well. That’s certainly a fair assessment. But scientists have identified oxybenzone as a toxic substance that directly affects the life of coral, and we want to help inform the public. We all use sunscreen when we're at the beach and if we don’t immediately abandon sunscreen with oxybenzone, then the life of and within our oceans are in big trouble.

Any small amount of effort to change the course of this problem could save a coral reef and help the environment in monumental “cause and effect” ways. Some argue, “What are we supposed to use to protect our skin from damaging UVA/UVB rays?” Simple. Switch to mineral sunscreen! Safe-to-use sunscreens, like ours, will be made of Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide  — that's it. 

Mineral sunscreen is better for you, anyway, as it physically protects skin from the sun’s rays and doesn’t absorb into your bloodstream. Mineral sunscreen is the eco-friendly and biodegradable alternative to slathering on sunscreen with oxybenzone and harming our precious marine life.

Going on a trip someplace sunny? Immediately throw out your toxic sunscreens? Stock up on Mexitan favorites that are all biodegradable and safe for our environment!

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