“We have lost at least 80% of coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers.” – Dr. Craig Downs
AVOID: Sunscreens containing Oxybenzone, Octinoxate and Octocrylene as well as sprays, powders and SPF 50+
The USVI made history on June 25, 2019 with the unanimous passage of a ban of sunscreen containing the “toxic 3 Os” of oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene in the territory. The legislation goes further than anywhere else in the United States, adding the dangerous chemical octocrylene to its ban and having earlier implementation dates. The groundbreaking legislation will protect coral, marine life and human heath. The full ban will go into effect March 30, 2020, with retailers prohibited from receiving shipments of sunscreen containing these ingredients after September 30, 2019.
Additionally, placing new orders for sunscreens that include the “Toxic 3 Os” is prohibited as of July 20, 2019, the day the Governor signed the bill into law. For more information on the sunscreen bill click here.
Coral is damaged when oxybenzone exceeds a concentration of 62 parts per trillion.
Levels near some coral reefs in the USVI were found to be 20-40x higher than that.
Mineral sunscreens containing non-nano zinc oxide or non-nano titanium oxide as the active ingredient. Avoid sprays and clear zinc sunscreens as their Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) show aquatic toxicity. Less is more: since mineral sunscreen tends to be thick, typically a smaller amount is necessary than chemical sunscreen for protection. A dime-sized amount should suffice. Work in sections and rub in well. View a list of recommended sunscreens HERE.
Make sure to read ingredient labels before purchasing. Some sunscreens touted as “Reef Safe” actually contain toxic chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene.
Check out Environmental Working Group’s tips on staying safe in the sun.
President Clinton has joined the crusade to ban toxic sunscreen chemicals. He gave an impromptu shout-out to Island Green President Harith Wickrema during the CGI Action Network Post-Disaster Recovery event on June 4, 2019 for educating him on the dangers of toxic sunscreen chemicals and the importance of a ban on the 3 Os (Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, & Octocrylene). Please use mineral-based sunscreen to protect our reefs, marine life and our own health. In the words of President Clinton “We’ve got to do this.”