The common ingredients in most sunscreens are harmful to aquatic life, such as the organisms that form and live in coral reefs
Whenever you apply sunscreen, there are instructions to wait before entering the water. But regardless of the time you wait, the sunscreen still comes off your skin when you are in the water. The chemicals in sunscreen cause harm to aquatic life in both saltwater and freshwater environments. A study by the University of Alberta determined that some of the ingredients in sunscreen can be fatal to freshwater organisms.
According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) sunscreen ingredients have many devastating impacts on aquatic life, such as decreasing fertility and respiration in fish, impairing growth and photosynthesis in green algae, and damaging immune systems and reproduction in sea urchins.
Sunscreen not only affects our environment, but also our bodies. Ingredients in sunscreen—such as: oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate and octocrylene—should be avoided when buying sunscreen for the summer. All of these chemicals are either endocrine disruptors or potential endocrine disruptors. As defined by the National Institute of Health, endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with or mimic the body’s hormones. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these disruptors can cause problems such as developmental malformations, interference with reproduction, increased risk of cancer, and faults in the immune system and nervous system function. According to a recent Yale University article it is said that octocrylene is also suspected to be a carcinogen, this means that it has the ability to cause cancer. Additionally, these chemicals bioaccumulate over time which means the more your body gets introduced too, the higher the levels of the chemicals in your body.
All of these active ingredients should be considered potentially harmful. Until we have research to back up the assumption of how harmless these ingredients are, we should be cautious about using them on a large scale. Because these chemicals comprise just some of the many ingredients in sunscreen, further research is required to determine whether any of them are safe for the environment and human health.
Sunscreen is something that is supposed to protect us, not hurt us.
So what can we do to protect ourselves and our children?