- NOV 2018 – Hawaii banned two SOLUBLE organic UV filters -oxybenzone and octinoxate – because of proventoxicity to coral and marine life.
- The Marshall Islands, US Virgin Islands, Key West (Florida), the Dutch Antilles (Aruba , Bonaire, Curacao) prohibited the same two, and Pacific Palau banned 2 more UV filters, octocrylene and 4-MBC, and the preservatives – phenoxyethanol, four parabens, and triclosan.
- FEB 2019 – the US FDA declared that ONLY zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (mineral filters) were Category I – Generally Regarded As Safe or Effective (GRASE). They watchlisted12 SOLUBLE UV filters needing more data to establish safety and efficacy for GRASE designation or Category III – cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, and avobenzone.The FDA affirmed 25 years of sciencethat these entered human blood (permeation) becoming bioavailable, and were toxic to humans and wildlife from hormone disruption, DNA mutation, and genotoxicity.
- All are smaller molecules below the threshold for absorption in humans and wildlife. They become bioavailable and accumulate in humans and wildlife, mostly through permeation.
- All are suspected or known hormone disruptors linked to birth defects, many hormonal problems and infertility, several cancers, and effects that skip this generation but affect our children and their children.
- The risks for these adverse effects may be small and cannot be measured in the fetus, but just the fact of permeation and bioavailability are reasons to avoid them stringently.
The Present Situation The sunscreen industry has deceptively capitalized by labelling sunscreens as “REEF SAFE” or “REEF FRIENDLY” if oxybenzone, octinoxate or any parabens is excluded. Yet many of these contain octocrylene – not considered reef safe in Palau. Many now use phenoxyethanol (banned in Palau) as a preservative, and labelled reef safe to fool the consumer that a sunscreen is safe if paraben or oxybenzone free. Phenoxyethanol can be neurotoxic in humans who have occupational exposure. It acts as an anaesthetic to marine life and can be lethal to fish and coral larva.
Any reasons for banning bioavailable soluble petrochemical UV filters in sunscreens for environmental reasons must be examined in the context that they are NOT “HUMAN SAFE”. They are found in most humans (numerous international studies since 1997) – now confirmed by the FDA – at levels above the FDA threshold for safety tests, after just one day of application. Environmental studies show they pollute global water supplies – virtually every river, stream, creek, lake, and estuary of 9 countries – where studies were performed – even the Arctic. Several are found in beach sand, sediment, municipal wastewater, and numerous marine species- mussels, fish, shrimp, other shellfish, and even dolphins.
No other pollutant – Teflon, pesticides like DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), Bisphenyl A (BPA) etc., or any drugs (prescription or OTC) is so widely distributed in humans and all wildlife, as soluble petroleum basedUV filters. Yes petrochemicals – similar to the gas and oil you use in your car.
A TRULY Reef Safe Sunscreen – for your March Break and other Vacation Travel
- Must also be HUMAN SAFE not using any of the 12 FDA Category III filters – cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, and avobenzone.Hawaii just tabled another Bill to extend their ban from oxybenzone and octinoxate to all 12 that the FDA cannot give a safe or effective rating at this time. They cited the concern for human health in addition to protecting the coral.
- Should not contain parabens, methylisothiazilone, quaternary ammonium chemicals, any essential oils, and lime or lemon extracts that have various adverse effects.
- Studies confirm that oxybenzone damages coral and marine wildlife by hormone disruption, just like in humans. The Category III filters will likely act in a similar manner on coral and marine wildlife as they do in humans. All bind to human hormone receptors. There appears to be a common pathway for toxicity to humans and the marine eco-system. First PERMEATION then HORMONE DISRUPTION, DNA mutation and genotoxicity. All 12 that enter humans likely pollute coral and marine wildlife by permeation at a faster rate, plus ingestion from the marine food chain.
- INSOLUBLE larger UV filters like zinc oxide exceed the threshold for permeation and bioavailability in humans. They are the best UVA filters – more likely to prevent skin cancer. The SOLUBLE group are all UVB filters (except for avobenzone) and provide UVB-BIASED incomplete protection where 10X more UVA than UVB radiation reaches your skin, for little or no protection against skin cancer and photoaging.
- Many marine scientists recommend mineral products as safer for coral reefs. We recommend them as SAFER for the coral, all humans plus the unborn, and our children and their children. 15-2000 tons of these FDA delisted and toxic UV filters reach our oceans every year. Oil spills are episodic and do local environmental damage unlike the invisible, insidious, daily oil “spill” from sunscreens carried by loop currents all over the globe.
- For definite HUMAN safety and the best option for the marine eco-system – use a zinc oxide mineral sunscreen at 20-25% – no need for titanium dioxide – more whitening on skin – and likely not good for the oceans or wildlife. Zinc is a mineral found in the ocean and in our bodies, where it acts as a co-factor in over 200 human enzyme reactions.
- Consumers want aesthetic products that feel good on skin. Some mineral products from expert formulators are now transparentand a Former First Lady with colored skin apparently uses a 25% pure zinc oxide sunscreen. Educated consumers, especially prudent parents, will choose effective sunscreens with UVA protection affording better prevention against skin cancer and aging, with no known risks to humans, coral, marine organisms and the environment in general – best provided by 20-25% zinc oxide sunscreens.
- The best UVA filters do not enter humans or wildlife by permeation. Zinc oxide is the best option in N. America with UV protective clothing to reduce the amount of sunscreen needed. On exposed skin use zinc oxide alone (20-25%) or with titanium dioxide (5 to 7.5%) with 15-20% zinc oxide. More efficacy against skin cancer and photoaging. Safer for humans and better for coral.
2 thoughts on “REEF “SAFE” OR REEF “FRIENDLY” SUNSCREENS”
Very helpful information, thank you. It is hard though to find even non-nano, zinc-based sunscreen which doesn’t have any chemicals damaging to reef/marine life – I was pleased to discover this one: https://sunzapper.uk/products/sun-zapper-pure-zinc-sunscreen-lotion-100ml-spf-50-25-zinc-oxide?variant=44208191996218 but then saw that it contains phenoxyethanol. I’m not sure why it’s harmful but note it is on Palau’s banned list. The search continues.
Sorry, I just spotted the problem you have quoted with phenoxyethanol, i.e. it “can be neurotoxic in humans who have occupational exposure. It acts as an anaesthetic to marine life and can be lethal to fish and coral larva”.