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  • 05.01.17

Your sunscreen may be killing coral reefs

Summer is coming, and people will soon be flocking to beaches, slathering on sunscreen, and snorkeling out to coral reefs. The National Park Service notes that each year 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen enter reefs, thanks to people using it before jumping in the water. That is good news for skin cancer prevention, but bad news for coral reefs, as research shows that common sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate can be harmful to the delicate underwater ecosystem, reports PopSci.

A new bill has been introduced in Hawaii’s legislature to ban the sale of sunscreens containing those chemical ingredients in the hopes of protecting the world’s reefs, and state Senator Will Espero, who introduced it, urged the state to act quickly to protect the 410,000 acres of living coral reefs that surround the Hawaiian islands. The reefs need all the help they can get as warming water has bleached over two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef alone.

As for what to wear when your Banana Boat is banned, mineral sunscreens made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are better for the environment, according to the National Park Service, which suggests looking for options marketed to children, hippies, and the children of hippies. ML