Dive Deeper Blog

Good News/Bad News on Oxybenzone
May 3, 2018

What a week in the reef-safe sunscreen industry! First, the good news – the Hawaiian legislature passed rules banning oxybenzone in sunscreens to protect their coral reefs yesterday. The governor is expected to sign the legislation in June.

Then the bad news — Swedish researchers show that pregnant mice exposed to “environmentally relevant” levels of oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3 or BP-3) led to apoptosis (programmed cell death), neurotoxicity, altered levels of estrogen receptors and changes in the gene functions of the mice fetuses.

The science is extraordinarily complicated but the scientists’ conclusion is clear: “We suggest that the effects of BP-3 in embryonic neurons may be the fetal basis of the adult onset of nervous system disease.” (The full report is paywalled but the abstract is available online.)

Oxybenzone, an effective sunscreen because it readily passes through the outer layers of skin, already is found in urine samples of 97% of Americans. Other reports have shown that it easily passes through other barriers including placental and blood brain blocks. Although we’ve always focused on natural resources, it’s becoming more clear every day that humans should avoid this ingredient for their own health, along with the health of the reefs.

It was the potential for damage of economically vital coral reefs in Hawaii that led its legislature to ban oxybenzone – passing unanimously in the senate and with minimal opposition in the house. “This is a big step forward for the protection of our coral reefs, marine life and human health,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, chair of the agricultural and environment committee. “Scientific evidence shows these chemicals induce coral bleaching, harm and kill coral larvae by creating gross deformities and act as an endocrine disruptor.”

The legislation, sadly, does not address human impacts but Gabbard noted that oxybenzone has been linked to multiple impacts in adults – even beyond the first-ever report on prenatal effects from Sweden this week.

At Stream2Sea, we are proud to offer products with ingredients that are safe for you and safe for our waters.  Click here to download a convenient ingredients to avoid card.

Stream2Sea has set a new standard for EcoConscious sunscreen and skincare. Along with the required human safety and SPF tests, Stream2Sea products are proven to be readily biodegradable in both salt and fresh water and have passed a comprehensive series of aquatic toxicity tests. Formulated with powerful antioxidant blends to protect skin from sun damage, the Stream2Sea line includes safe sunscreens, conditioning shampoo and body wash, leave-in conditioner, nourishing body lotion and lip balms. Stream2Sea products are currently available online at www.Stream2Sea.com or ask for them at your favorite health food store, dive center or outdoor retailer. Friend us on Facebook or call (866) 960-9513.

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