Free shipping on all orders over $50  |  Play smart. Play safe. Non-toxic suncare

New Tiny Beads Might Save Reefs from Chemical Sunscreens

by Will / August, 30 2017 01:30

A sea turtle swimming over a coral reef.

A little bit of oxybenzone, a very common chemical UV filter found in sunscreens (not ours!), can kill coral reefs. Not only do the reefs die but also the ecosystem they support can fade away too. It’s why states like Hawaii are trying to pass legislation to ban sunscreens with oxybenzone. Encouragingly, researchers from the University of Puerto Rico are working on a fix (of course, switching to an all-mineral sunscreen like ours could help too).

A Simple Existing Solution: Use All-Mineral Sunscreen to Avoid Oxybenzone

Since the beads aren’t ready yet and it’s unclear how easy it would be to use them, what can you do now? It’s simple; use an all-mineral sunscreen like ours.

The way to tell if a sunblock is all-mineral is to look at the “active ingredients” listed on a sunscreen. You want to see only zinc and/or titanium listed. Anything else is a chemical UV filter and since all sunscreens are required by US Food and Drug Administration regulations to list their ingredients, it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Note that this requirement is for the ingredients to be listed on the bottle. Some companies, like us, list the ingredients online too but not all do. If you’re going to be swimming, make sure to use a water-resistant sunblock too.

New Research: Beads Might Absorb Oxybenzone

This is really cool. Researchers developed biodegradable beads that will absorb oxybezone from water. The beads consist of magnetic nanoparticles encapsulated in alginate (derived from algae) and chitosan (a waste product of fish). Because it’s yet to be determined exactly how they will be used, the beads can be designed to float or sink depending on the need.

95% of Oxybenzone Absorbed Within an Hour

When the beads were tested, the researchers found encouraging results:

Next, the researchers added their beads to the sample. “We collected seawater samples and spiked them with oxybenzone at 30 ppm, and within an hour, we removed 95 percent of the compound,” says Roman. “It’s a fairly fast process.” Control experiments showed no change in oxybenzone concentrations without beads present.”

While the results are only preliminary, we love what we’ve heard so far.

Additional Tests to be Done Using Pool Goers

As I mentioned, the results so far are preliminary. Felix Roman and his team of researchers plan to slather up a bunch of folks with chemical sunblock, have them soak in a salt-water pool, and then try the beads in the pool.

The group intends to have a bunch of volunteers coat themselves in sunblock and swim around for a bit. Then, the researchers will add beads and see how long it takes to remove oxybenzone from the pool. “We may have to run the experiment a number of times with different amounts of beads,” Roman says.

Want to know more? Suncare Smarts Series

We write a lot about suncare and skincare in general. To keep up to date, check out our Suncare Smarts series and education articles.

Tags: , , , , , ,

blog comments powered by Disqus