If you're one of those people who prefers to lather on gobs and gobs of sunscreen, a recent study says you're contributing to the mass depletion of coral reefs around the globe. Way to go, moms everywhere.
The study, published Oct. 20 in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, claims that a common and active ingredient in sunscreen, oxybenzone, breaks down coral, robbing it of nutrients and turning it white, also known as "bleaching."
The study says that one drop of sunscreen can devastate an area the size of six Olympic-sized swimming pools. Now picture a hot day at New Smyrna Beach. Carnage.
But beach goers aren't the only ones to blame. “The most direct evidence we have is from beaches with a large amount of people in the water,” said UCF associate professor of biology John Fauth, to the Washington Post
. “But another way is through the wastewater streams. People come inside and step into the shower. People forget it goes somewhere.”
This news comes shorty after a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just a couple weeks ago that stated we are in the midst of a third global coral bleaching event
, which is bad. Very bad.
Coral reefs are vital to thousands of marine species and they also protect us from storm surges. If that's not enough, they also have a monetary value. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, coral reefs provide a net benefit of $9.6 billion each year from tourism and recreation revenues, and another $5.7 billion per year from fisheries.
So, if your going to lather on the sunscreen, please try using one that doesn't murder the ocean. Here are a few sunscreen options that do not include oxybenzone