Sunscreen is a significant source of metals in coastal waters, and the release rate is higher under UV light. “Marine environmental scientists and cosmetic companies must work together in order to create a sunscreen safe for the marine environment,” says the study’s lead author.

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In Hawaii the sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate were banned. The natural alternative is zinc oxide, or of course wearing protective clothing.


As a member of the ginger community with a very consistent use of sunscreen, I really hope they can find a environmentally safe version of sunscreen, because I don’ t like looking like a lobster every time I go outside. For context, last time I was outside, I got a sunburn in the shade….


After reading the research, this is a scare. From the paper’s abstract: “oxybenzone has been implicated specifically as a possible contributor to coral reef bleaching.” However in the paper re: measure levels in the ocean: “Clearly, these values are in the low to zero toxicity ranges for coral bleaching.” ​ The oceans just dilutes it too much to cause coral bleaching. Like 1000x times more than what’s caused bleaching in a lab.


Mineral sunscreen is longer-lasting and better for the skin anyway. I almost completely cured my adult acne by using only physical sunscreens (and I wear sunscreen every day, as a fair person, to avoid melanoma and photo-aging.)


While interesting, there seems to be a misleading implication. Though the study analyzed leaching of many metals, it pointed to a much more limited set as concerning i.e., Phosphorous and Lead (as opposed to aluminum, zinc, or titanium). Many mineral sunscreens (e.g., blue lizard) don’t have the harmful metals. “In the present study, we have determined the release rate of dissolved trace metals (Al, Cd, Cu, Co, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, and Ti) and inorganic nutrients (SiO2, P-PO4 3−, and N-NO3 −) from a commercial sunscreen in seawater . . . We conservatively estimate that sunscreen from bathers is responsible for an increase of dissolved metals and nutrients ranging from 7.54 × 10−4 % for Ni up to 19.8% for Ti. . . . .The normally low environmental concentrations of **some elements (e.g., P) and the toxicity of others (e.g., Pb)** could be having a serious adverse effect on marine ecology in the Mediterranean Sea. “