Sunscreens are Bleaching Coral Reefs

File this on under damned if you do, damned if you don’t – sunblock contributes to coral reef bleaching.

An Italian university study published in the April issue of Environmental Health Perspectives links sunscreen to coral bleaching. Worse still, sunscreens can accumulate while moving up the food chain (just like mercury). The Italians tested effects of different sunscreen brands, protective factors (SPFs), and concentrations on coral algae. The researchers estimated that about 25 percent of the sunscreen we apply to ourselves washes off within 20 minutes. Based on coral tourism, it is estimated that about 6,000 tons of the “sunscreen runoff” is released annually in reef areas.

This isn’t to say that we now have to choose between ocean health and skin cancer.  But this is a very recent discovery, so there aren’t too many sunscreen choices out there that a) are ocean friends AND b) work.  I’ve only tried Badger Sunscreen so far, but wasn’t too thrilled with the result.  It’s potency tends to wear off after about 30 or 40 minutes, which is no good for a 2+ hour surf session.

Let us know if you’ve found something that works!

1 Comment

  1. ala moana on 29 July 2009 at 10:55 am

    I’ve used almost every conceivable brand of sunscreen and most of them are useless for serious surf sessions. Hands down the best is Shiseido Sun Protection Stick SPF 35 . You put it on your face and it just doesn’t budge. No running in the eyes, no wearing off after four hours, it’s perfect. Guys may be put off by the fact that it’s made by a girly Japanese cosmetics company (the original product is a tinted foundation but i use the translucent one which looks like a white glue stick) but don’t let that deter you. It’s the real deal. Tough enough for marathon sessions in Hawaii, Peru, Mexico. The down side is that seems expensive at $25 a stick. But since it’s so strong it’ll last you a whole summer, and you won’t have to buy bottle after bottle of stuff that just isn’t cutting it. After wasting a lot of money on lesser products i have to say your face is worth it. I buy it at the Shiseido Kiosk in my local Japanesey market but you can check it out here.

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