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Is your sunscreen safe for the environment?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

 

"It is estimated that up to 6,000 tons of sunscreen is released annually by tourists in reef areas, and because sunscreens are often petroleum based, they don’t biodegrade.

When chemicals in sunscreen come in contact with reefs, the coral becomes stressed, pushing out the algae living inside and leaving behind a vulnerable skeletal structure. As coral reefs lose their biological inhabitants due to toxins, pollution and increased temperatures due to global warming, they also lose their pigments, becoming “ bleached.”

To read more click here EARTHSHARE

Well how do we know which sunscreen to buy??   The article says look for sunscreens that are free of petrochemical active ingredients and nanoparticles as these are also harmful to humans. It is said that old fashioned zinc-oxide is as safe as ever!  
 

post #2 of 11

Six tousand tons seem like a lot but it would be diluted by the surrounding waters. One cubic meter of water is one ton so this would be in the ppb level quickly.

 

The article sounds like another scare tatic. Not that any of this stuff is good for the surroundings but - 

 

Dawei or Dana may be able to make a more intelligent reply than I. Be interesting to hear their take on it.

post #3 of 11

 

I recently read an article about this and they recommended Caribbean Solutions , a biodegradable sunscreen.  I found it at a local store and gave it a try.  I was very happy with it.   Whether 6000 tons is really left behind, why contritube to any of it when you don't have to?


Edited by hippiechick - 6/15/2009 at 06:28 pm GMT
post #4 of 11

@hippiechick - got me there!

 

No pollution at all is better than a little and 6000 tons is far more than a little.

 

Rather than ignore it is far better to do something such as you suggest. 

post #5 of 11

If the label states, biodegradable, it is a safe bet.  You can also look for the label "mineral sunscreen."  This one is a toughy because, at least where I live, you can't find many choices.  In fact, Whole Foods is the only carrier of any type of mineral or biodegradable sunscreen but they are in tiny bottles and very expensive.  the other problem is that they are mixed in with the other products containing good old PABA and those other naughty ingredients such as Octisalate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone (active ingredients that cause the bleaching).

 

If you can, buy online. Do your research and compare the ingredients.  You can also go to the cosmeticsdatabase.com and view the risks associated with certian ingredients in thousands of products.  I have heard of Carribean Solutions, but never tried it.  Seems like a good product.  I used the Mineral Sunscreen from Alba, it is 18 spf.  If you are going to switch to the zinc or titanium dioxide lotions, just be prepared to rub, rub, rub.  It is thicker than your average lotion and can leave a white haze on your skin, but I like that better than being burned.

post #6 of 11

I also wanted to add a warning about the cosmeticsdatabase.com.  It can be kind of eery.  In fact, I would use it as a guideline to get the lesser of all evils, but don't freak out when it tells you that your lipstick causes cancer!  All ingredients in our everyday life have some connection to some type of toxic reaction on cellular levels, which no doubt is something you want to keep to a minimum, but just know that some of the things on that site can seem pretty disturbing.  I still like to use it however because it gives good comparisons and insight.

 

For example, if you just did a search on the word sunscreen, it tells you that the safest product is from Soleo Organics, in fact they have the top 4 spots.  Then you can do your own searches and find the differences between them and other products and their prices.


Edited by srj0385 - 6/16/2009 at 02:44 pm GMT
post #7 of 11

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by srj0385 View Post

I also wanted to add a warning about the cosmeticsdatabase.com.  It can be kind of eery.  In fact, I would use it as a guideline to get the lesser of all evils, but don't freak out when it tells you that your lipstick causes cancer! 


 

The other thing about Cosmetics Database is simply that it's run by a small, non-profit team.  Some of their data for certain products is out of date.  I know some manufacturers have phased out stuff like parabens but their listings on Cosmetics Database don't reflect those changes simply because they don't have the man power to get everything retested, etc.

 

But I still use them as a good tool too.  Just one more thing to keep in mind.

post #8 of 11

I don't know if this is exactly the same but if you read the label on laboratory standard materials like iron ore (powdered) or steel (small chips) they give a warning about not getting it into your eyes, not breathing the material, wash carefully after handling and I don't remember what all else (the last time I read one of these labels was 40 years back when I was working in a lab).

 

The danger from both of those materials was practically zero but to have themselves in a perfectly comfortable place the US Bureau of standards used a minimum warning that seemed a bit over the top. 

post #9 of 11

I never even thought about sunblock affecting the environment. I'll definitely have to keep my eye out for the biodegradable stuff next time.

post #10 of 11
It's pretty interesting to think about sunscreen the same way as carbon emissions.  Each one of us as an individual might not have a ton of sunscreen wash off of us in a year...I mean...how many times do you really go to the beach? But when you think about it as a whole - all the people everywhere who go to the beach or river or lake.  It's got to be more than 6,000 tons because that doesn't include bodies of water other than reef areas. Pretty gross.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by srj0385 View Post

 

For example, if you just did a search on the word sunscreen, it tells you that the safest product is from Soleo Organics, in fact they have the top 4 spots.  Then you can do your own searches and find the differences between them and other products and their prices.


Edited by srj0385 - 6/16/2009 at 02:44 pm GMT

Good to hear that about Soleo!  Their sunscreen is biodegradable, I know.  I used to used UV Natural with my preschool students but then the retailer I got that from changed over to Soleo. It's quite good, I think.  All the students (and myself) still wear sun hats but combined, they're great sun protection. And biodegradable is much more environmentally responsible.  I'm not certain UV Natural is biodegradable.  Some places say it is but their website does not call it out as a benefit or a feature.
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