You may be one of the millions of sunscreen users that probably couldn’t imagine never using any sun protection.

It would seem impossible to avoid burning without any type of barrier to stop those harmful UV rays getting to your skin.

But did you know that Hawaii has actually banned two chemicals found in sunscreens? So what’s up with these products that are supposed to protect us from sun damage, but then seem to cause a whole host of other issues? And what are the alternatives?

Researchers at the Hong Kong Baptist University discovered a large amount of chemicals found in sunscreens in seawater in the 30 different coastal regions of Hong Kong.

A study was conducted to assess the danger of sunscreen chemicals posed to sea life and researchers were alarmed to find that these chemicals had caused biological interference to zebrafish and were a hazard to their reproduction.

Did you know that the zebrafish has a similar genetic structure to humans? A biological hazard to them may be a hazard to us.

The most common used UV filters found on the market were included in this study and seawater samples taken from depths of 2 meters revealed that chemicals were found from 3.1 to 51.3 ng per gram of seawater.

These levels clearly represent a threat to humans as well as the chemicals studied could easily find their way on to the dinner plates of unsuspecting seafood lovers.

The study also consisted of an artificial aquatic environment, purposefully contaminated with chemical UV chemical filters. They observed the effect of feeding contaminated artemia to the zebrafish for 47 days.

Although the cocktail of UV chemicals do naturally clear from the affected zebrafish after approximately 47 days, the long lasting damage were not so easily rectified. Their embryos displayed defects and mortality rate of the embryos had also dramatically increased from 10% to around 60%, whilst the hatch rate fell to 30% from 80%.

Following this study, the lead author, Dr Kevin Leung, has advocated for regulations of the use of sunscreen chemicals.

Hawaii is in fact leading the charge against this pollution as a law was passed to prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing octinoxate and oxybenzone.

The damage to coral reefs, marine algae and impact of fish life had clearly gone too far.

The Natural Alternatives

Remember these chemicals contaminate the environment not only when people swim whilst wearing UV filters but also through the discharge of wastewater into the sea. So if you absolutely need protection if staying in the sun for long periods, you do have a choice of a more natural alternative.

Mineral-based sunscreens are highly recommenced by researchers. Even your diet plays a role in protecting you from the sun. Coconut oil and macademia oil can offer a certain degree of protection and even supplements such as astaxanthin can increase your defense against UV rays.

Sources for this article include:

Pubs.ACS.org
Eurekalert.org
USNews.com

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