By Ellen Kranefuss,
Madison Environmental Commission Member
We all know that sunscreen is essential for protecting against skin damage and skin cancer. But be careful which type you use: Beneath the surface of sunscreen’s pleasant scents evoking warm summer memories, there may be chemicals that harm marine life.
common sunscreen chemicals
— including but not limited to Oxybenzo and Benzophenone — are highly toxic to juvenile coral reefs and a variety of marine life. They damage coral reefs’ DNA, induce defects in young mollusks, impair photosynthesis of green algae, and disrupt fertility and reproductive cycles of fish — all of which impacts human life as well.
How to protect yourself
with less sunscreen
Toxicity occurs even in an amount equal to one drop of water in an Olympic-sized pool. So the action you take makes an enormous difference.
😎 Limit the times you need to apply sunscreen.
😎 Wear protective, lightweight clothing and a brimmed hat instead of applying sunscreen.
😎 Stay under umbrellas on the beach or stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Oceans under stress
- Coral reefs are the ocean’s most important ecosystem, and the first line of defense against tropical storms.
- Oceans provide one half of the world's oxygen, and sequester one third of the world's carbon dioxide
- Disruption of fish reproductive cycles has considerable implications for the ocean’s food chain, and the chemical load carried by fish is passed on to our food system.