With the temperatures reaching unlivable levels in certain parts of the Earth, it’s more important than ever to slip, slap, slop on some sunscreen whenever you’re exposed to the sun, lest you want to face the wrath of sunburn and skin cancer.
But we’re at a critical juncture because it turns out all that skin-protecting sunscreen is doing massive harm to our precious environment.
A new study by the University of Cantabria and the Institute of Marine Sciences Andalusia found that your cancer-preventing sunscreen is releasing worrying amounts of metals and inorganic nutrients into seawater.
This isn’t just a case of sunscreen rubbing off your face while you’re frolicking around in the waves. Researchers found that not only are metals and nutrients getting released by sunscreen, the amount of UV light can either speed up or slow down this polluting process. This can result to algae blooms and considerable damage to marine ecosystems, which in turn will affect tourism since no one will be flocking to holiday at a dead beach.
Throw in other established links between sunscreen chemicals and unsavoury environmental-killing things like coral stress, hormonal changes in dolphins, birth defects in mussels and sea urchins, and changed reproductive patterns in fish, and it seems like sunscreen isn’t quite the safe thing we all assumed it was.
But hey, at least you and your skin will be safe from cancer!
The effects of sunscreen runoff in seawater on the health of swimmers aren’t exactly clear, but we do know that ingesting a lot of metal and inorganic material is bad for the human body so there’s bound to be some sort of negative effect awaiting us in the water at some point.
This leaves us between a rock and a hard place: Do you put on sunscreen and protect yourself from all the cancer-spreading UV light or do you forego the sunscreen and risk getting melanoma in order to save the environment?
Now before you think about throwing out all your sunscreen in order to save the polar bears, doctors and dermatologists still recommend you to slip, slop and slap because well-intended sunscreen boycotts may help the environment but it’s a slippery slope to sunburn and skin cancer.
The onus then is on cosmetic companies to develop an environmentally safe sunscreen that won’t kill off marine life or poison us with its chemicals. Or you could just wear a bunch of clothes, which will provide you UV protection at the expense of being roasted alive.
Hey, no one said that this whole saving the Earth thing was going to be easy.