Reef Safe sunscreens are marketed on the back of claims that they do not pollute or endanger marine life in anyway, while also providing comprehensive UVA and UVB sunscreen protection for the user.
Executives at Reef Safe decided to put its claims to the ultimate test by submitting its product range to the vigorous testing methods at the Mote Marine labs.
No stress, bleaching or mortality of corals
According to the research findings, it was concluded that Reef Safe formulas showed no visual signs of stress, bleaching or mortality to corals at any level of sunscreen treatments over three different time periods: 24 hours, 96 hours and 20 days.
“Coral Reefs have been subjected to damage over the past decades, and one of the supposed contributing factors is the effect that sunscreen chemicals have on the health of corals,” said Dan Knorr, president and CEO of Tropical Seas.
“This test was designed to simulate conditions found at coral reef sites impacted by large volumes of bathers, snorkelers and scuba divers, all using Reef Safe formulated sunscreens, which includes oxybenzone as one of the active ingredients.”
Testing simulated realistic exposure of coral to sunscreens
The testing included the simulation of snorkel boats with the equivalent of almost 3,000 snorkelers wearing the Reef Safe sunscreens taking twice-daily dips into marine simulated tanks containing live corals.
Mote Marine Labs tested Reef Safe’s SPF 50, SPF 45 and SPF 30 (no oxybenzone) formulas for hard corals in both inshore and offshore environments designed to simulate the exacting environment of a coral reef, against a control setting with no product.
In total 20 tanks were evenly distributed with 100 coral plants, with each coral being visually assessed for essential signs of health using a determined coral health code both before, during and after the testing periods.
The tests results showed that over the three different testing periods no significant difference was observed at any level of exposure of test fragments relative to controls. Safe Reef executives claim that this conclusion proves the safety of its sun care products on these corals.
Research on danger from sunscreens to coral life
In October of last year, research came from the Tel Aviv University came to light providing fresh proof that ingredients found in sunscreens can be hazardous to the delicate ecosystems necessary for coral life.
The research, which is published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, specifically finds that although sunscreens with an SPF higher than 15 are playing a very important role in preventing skin cancers, they are also “very bad for the environment”.
The Israeli researchers also showed that a chemical that is commonly formulated in sunscreens – oxybenzone (benzophene 3) - poses what the scientist term is an ‘existential threat’, even if the dosing is in tiny amounts.