Reef Safe sunscreen gets approval from Ocean Futures Society

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sun care products Coral reef

Increasing awareness of the potential environmental impact of sunscreens has prompted one US sunscreen manufacturer to seek approval of its latest product from an environmental group.

Reef Safe SunCare, which is manufactured in Florida under the Beach Buff brand, has been approved by Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Future Society on the basis of its biodegradeable formulation.

As part of the approval Beach Buff has said that it will donate a proportion of the proceeds from the sales of each tube of Reef Safe sold to support the work that the Ocean Future Society carries out to protect ocean and marine life.

On-going scientific research into sunscreen toxicity

“Our scientific team will continue to work with Reef Safe to broaden ongoing tests of the product on a wide range of sea life, “​ said Jean-Michel Cousteau, founder of the Ocean Future Society.

The agreement will lead to co-branding efforts between the sun care provider and the society throughout 2011, as well as speaking engagements by Cousteau that will highlight the eco-friendly endeavors initiated by Reef safe.

The endorsement draws attention to the growing body of evidence suggesting that sunscreens can pose a significant toxic risk to both coral reefs and an extensive range of marine life.

Sun care ingredients may bleach coral reefs

In particular, scientists at the University of Marche, Italy, have been working on research that indicates ingredients in sun care products may be bleaching coral reefs, in turn ruining them by promoting viral infections.

Organic UV filters and preservatives used in sun care products could contribute to the bleaching of hard-coral if released into natural systems, say the researchers led by Roberto Danovaro.

Coral bleaching refers to the loss of the zooxanthellae algae that live in a symbiotic relationship with the coral.

Sunscreens pose threat of toxic waste

Research also indicates that an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of potentially toxic sunscreen is washed off swimmers and into the oceans every year.

Reef Safe says its sun care products have been extensively tested in independent laboratories, showing that when its formulation washes off, it takes approximately 90 days to biodegrade in sea weater or fresh water, with no toxicity issues.

Likewise, the company says it has also enhanced the environmental credentials of its suncare formulations due to the fact that the wash-off rate for its formulations in water is approximately three percent, compared to 25 percent for conventional sun care formulations.

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