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  • Sarahminda Czajka

What Is Your Sunscreen Doing To The Environment?


We are starting this June’s Blog with some current events! Hawai’i has announced a new law that they hope to put into effect by 2021. The new state law would ban the sale of all sunscreens containing chemicals known to be harmful to the coral reef. This is a revolutionary law for ocean health and a huge step in preserving our environment. So, here is what you need to know about reef safety and how to go about choosing this summer’s sunscreen!

Approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen ends up in our coral reefs around the world. There is also reported to be 82,000 chemicals from personal/skin care products are now in our oceans. We are also learning more about all the chemicals commonly found in our personal care products. Currently, this type of research is being carried out extensively by The Haereticus Environmental Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Craig A. Downs. His team was the one to identify the chemicals that were causing widespread coral bleaching. Along with the National Center for Coastal Ocean Sciences, we now have an emerging list of chemicals that are destroying the corals reef and the oceanic ecosystems.

Here is what we know so far. The two main villains are oxybenzone and octinoxate (or methoxycinnamate).

Other chemicals that are showing harmful effects on the environment include:

  • Octocrylene

  • PABA (Para-Aminobenzoic Acid)

  • Triclosan

  • Nano particles

  • Parabens (phenoxyethanol**, benzylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben).

*These are all found in more than just sunscreens. NPR reported that over 3,500 general skin care products also contain these chemicals.

**Phenoxyethanol was originally created as a mass fish anesthetic.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate have been a popular sunscreen for years because it absorbs UV rays and converts them into heat. Due to this action, oxybenzone is a coral reef bleacher. Corals bleach naturally over time in 81.7℉ (31 ℃), oxybenzone bleaches corals chemically at 78℉ and in just a few hours. Juvenile corals exposed to these chemicals can also experience major deformations. These chemicals are not only harmful to our environment and the coral reefs, but to us humans as well. Oxybenzone can cause DNA damage and its use can lead to cancer and developmental abnormalities. It also acts as an endocrine disruptor.

“Chemicals that filter UV light can activate latent viral infections in symbiotic microalgae that the corals rely on for nutrition.”

“Seawater surrounding coral exposed to sunscreen contained up 15 times more viruses than unexposed samples.”

-National Center for Coastal Ocean Science

In a recent article by the North Coast Journal, they reported on the Abalone populations and the health of our reef. Much of the environmental changes in the ocean that are causing health issues among the Abalone here, can also be attributed to human interference, such as the exposure of our coral reefs to chemicals in mass produced sunscreens.

Now, we are not saying to forego the sunscreen altogether! We live in a fantastic era with a lot of options! First and foremost, ‘non-nano’ mineral sunscreens are the way to go. ‘Non-Nano’ Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide mineral sunscreens are the most reef-safe sunscreens. The only drawback to ‘non’-nano’ mineral sunscreens are ones that they don’t blend well and they can rub off easily, simply reapply or find a water resistant type.

Below is a list of things to look for on the bottle when choosing your sunscreen this summer:

  • Reef Safe or Reef Friendly

  • Bio-degradable

  • Non-Nano

  • Mineral

We also made it easy for you, our customers! Here are some of our favorite picks that we carry here at Eureka Natural Foods:

  • Badger’s entire line of sunscreen for adults, children, infants, whole family, and whole family with natural bug repellants are Reef friendly, Biodegradable, Non-Nano Mineral based, FDA approved water resistant, and organic. Badger only uses Zinc oxide, Vitamin E, Beeswax, and Organic plant oils.

  • Alba’s Sunscreens and spray on sunscreens are all Reef safe, Biodegradable, FDA approved water resistant, 100% vegetarian, and maintains the Leaping Bunny logo.

  • MyChelle’s line of Sunscreens are all Reef safe, Non-Nano mineral with fruit antioxidants, and 1% of all proceeds benefit the Surfrider Foundation.

The Great Dehydration

Another thing to look for when dealing with summer: Dehydration! “Have you drank any water?” “Yes, I have but I am still so thirsty!” Time for electrolytes everybody!

Electrolytes are essentially chemicals which carry either a positive charge (cations) or negative charge (anions). They become ions in a solution, which is most commonly water. They are needed for every function in the body, from the cells to the organs.

-The Electrolytes-

Sodium

Chloride

Potassium

Magnesium

Calcium

Phosphate

Bicarbonate

Also: zinc, iron, manganese, molybdenum, copper, and chromium

Unfortunately, the human body (and our personal choices) deplete these regularly. Electrolytes are commonly lost in sweat, either from working out or a particularly hot day. Drinking alcohol requires a huge amount of electrolytes afterwards to help the liver function properly again. Diarrhea and vomiting also cause a deficiency in electrolytes as they are lost the water leaving the body.

-Below are the symptoms of deficiency-

Muscle aches, spasms, and weakness

Restlessness/insomnia

Anxiety

Headaches

Large thirst

Fever

Heart palpitations

Digestive issues (vomiting, Diarrhea)

Confusion/trouble concentrating

Bones Disorders

Joint Pain

Significant changes in appetite/weight

Fatigue/chronic fatigue

Numbness

Dizziness

While these symptoms display the range that can arise due to a deficiency, each of these electrolytes carry their own specific set of disorders for specific deficiencies. Check out this site for more information.

You will also notice some of these electrolytes, we more commonly refer to them as minerals. These heavier minerals are needed in higher quantities in the body: calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron. Due to mass agricultural practices, the soil on our planet has become more depleted. These minerals we would normally get from our vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and some grains. Now, we are seeing a rising need to supplement these once plentiful minerals. For Americans, these specific mineral/electrolyte deficiencies are very common now.

Eureka Natural Foods luckily carries a number to electrolyte replacing drink packets.

  • Ultima’s replenisher is one of the best electrolyte replacers around. 6 electrolytes and 0 calories, sugars, or artificial sweeteners. They are also 100% vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, paleo-friendly, keto-friendly, and Autism approved. They contain support minerals and only use real fruit flavors and organic stevia as a sweetener. Even the powder colors are plant-based!

  • Nuun is a new line of electrolyte replacing effervescent tablets, perfect for travelling! Only 10 calories, balanced electrolytes, only 1g of sugar, non-GMO sourced Dextrose, Vitamin C, Stevia, Monk Fruit, and avocado oil is used in the plant-based production. Need an extra energy boost? Some flavors contain 40mg of green tea extracted caffeine.

  • Ener-C is one of our all around companies! “Proudly certified non-GMO, Ener-C is a delicious effervescent drink mix flavored with real fruit juice powders. Ener-C is the caffeine-free, low sugar replacement for sport drinks, energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages. Ener-C provides immune and thyroid support, B vitamins, electrolytes, antioxidants and so much more!”


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