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A question from a nonprofessional

Discussion in 'Business of Diving Institute' started by jomcclain, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. jomcclain

    jomcclain Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Virginia
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    I’m not a professional but had a question for professionals, dive shop owners, boat captains, etc. When I go out on a boat I usually see divers putting on sunscreen, containing oxybenzone. Given the established fact that this stuff is harmful to reefs I don’t understand why it is allowed. I would like to make the suggestion to the appropriate people that they out not allow it, or at least ought to make some effort to tell their customers about its effects. But I’m not sure on the best way to go about doing so or who I should even try to tell for any given operation- shop owner, dive masters on the boat, captain, etc. Would like to do so in a way that will allow the person to consider what I’m saying. There usually isn’t time for such conversations when we’re about to go out or right afterwards without annoying the busy person I’m trying to talk to. Does anyone have suggestions?
     
    mselenaous likes this.
  2. tbone1004

    tbone1004 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
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    look up the information that @Reef Safe - Dan and @Reef Safe - Richard have published from studies that have been done. Oxybenzone can be made truly reef safe, but not all sunscreens encapsulate it properly.
    Outright banning it wouldn't necessarily fix anything because there are plenty of other compounds that can cause damage to the reef as well as the oil slick that may ensue from it. Sunscreen aside, I would argue that more damage is done from people peeing in close proximity to the reefs and any physical damage caused by people being there. Perfect evidence of that is if you run down to Looe Key and go into the marine sanctuary. Look at the coral there, then go outside of the sanctuary and check the coral heads there. They usually look quite a bit better because there is no traffic out there.

    While I don't disagree with you on ensuring that the sunscreen you are using isn't going to harm the corals any more than everything else that you're bringing into that environment, and I do use Reef Safe sunscreens, the Oxybenzone is not necessarily the culprit that will cause any meaningful improvement.

    I would urge you to read up on the studies that have been done before you go around asking people to ban oxybenzone
    Real Science with Reef Safe: Does Reef Safe use Oxybenzone in their pr
    REEF SAFE™ SUNCARE PROVEN NON-TOXIC TO TESTED CORALS
     
  3. jomcclain

    jomcclain Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Virginia
    46
    23
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    I appreciate your answering so fast! I guess I should have been more specific though. I am aware that Reef Safe is entirely different, and I have nothing against it. I'm referring to brands like Coppertone, Banana Boat, etc. I also recognize that a lot of damage is done by other factors like unskilled divers kicking the coral heads, or peeing at the reef, etc. but those things would be pretty hard to solve, and being unable to solve one problem doesn't mean we shouldn't at least try to solve another. What I'm asking about are any suggestions on how to best approach the people who would be in a position to do more about the sunscreen issue than I am with my 1-2 brief trips to the ocean per year. Thanks to you for pointing out the Reef Safe brand, I will be more precise if and when I do get to talk to anyone about it.
     
  4. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    5,806
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    It's time to confess. I've continued to use the bad stuff. Primarily because I burn like crazy and my experiences with "safe" sunscreens has been that they don't work once you get wet or they're awful messes.

    That said, my wife and I decided we're going to forego the bad stuff all year this year and see how it shakes out. I already use "upf" clothing on the water, but as an easy burner I need sunscreen on my balding head, face, ears, hands, and the tops of my feet.

    Undecided on what sunscreen to actually use, I'm guessing we'll try several unless we get lucky the first time out.
     
  5. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    5,431
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    Sunburn leading to possible skin cancer vs the reefs?

    Take your pick.
     
  6. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    I've had lots of skin cancers removed. I wear rash guards and board shorts as a sunscreen. The only melanomas I've had removed are on my feet, so I use oxybenzone-free sunscreens on my feet, ears, and face. I also wear a floppy hat. It isn't necessary to put oxybenzone/octinoxate in the water.

    @tbone1004, I urge you to find peer reviewed studies regarding oxybenzone. Not the commercial studies paid for by someone with an agenda....
     
    mselenaous likes this.
  7. tbone1004

    tbone1004 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    15,678
    6,995
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    @Wookie while I don't disagree with what you said, there aren't really any peer reviewed studies on oxybenzone out there that are really applicable to what we're doing.
    I'm not using oxybenzone sunscreen from them though, but I'm with you, the only sunscreen I really use is on my feet, ears, and nose.
    Commercial studies when done by third parties though are still valid, and I would argue much more useful than the ones when they dosed a bunch of it straight into the water with a solvent that is also toxic to coral...

    @jomcclain the best thing is to convince the operators to provide the sunscreen to the guests. Some operators have started doing that. It's cheap on their part but ensures no issues with the reefs
     
  8. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    @jomcclain when I operated a liveaboard, I provided sunscreen and bodywash and mask defog to my clients as we operated in a marine sanctuary or a National Park and didn't want anyone to ask us what was running off of the decks into their water. We had tubes of sunscreen provided gratis from a manufacturer of oxybenzone free sunscreen, and body wash that I bought (and continue to buy) from a company in Oakland CA that is safe for San Francisco bay. I figured if it was safe for the Bay Area waters, it ought to be good enough for open ocean diving 20 miles from nearest land.
     
    SeaHorse81 and tbone1004 like this.
  9. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    Tom, it's kind of like global warming/climate change. You can believe it or not, and you can certainly set up studies both ways to get the results you want, but it's pretty clear that oxybenzone is known to the country of Australia and the State of Hawaii and NOAA and NPS and PADI and DEMA and a number of organizations to be toxic, not just to corals but to all kinds of life in the ocean.

    I don't really care one way or the other, I have oxybenzone free sunscreen available to me, so there is no reason to question the science. Because I really don't care.
     
    Seaweed Doc likes this.
  10. Autumnb

    Autumnb Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: United States
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    @jomcclain - thank you for wanting to help educate divers and the industry to pay attention to the ingredients we put on our bodies and into our waters. I have found that most want to do what's right, but many either haven't thought about it, or don't know the right product to choose. As an industry, we have to make it easy for them to make good decisions and counter the belief they have to choose between protecting their skin or protecting the reefs.

    My company (full disclosure - I'm the founder and cosmetic chemist at Stream2Sea) offers convenient, wallet sized ingredients to avoid cards to be used as an easy reference tool. Our website links the hazardous ingredients to the studies showing they are hazards - studies done by the government and universities, not sponsored by corporate interests. We also have water proof boat signs that link to NOAA's sunscreen bulletin details. These are offered free to any of our retail partners and can be used to easily show what products are safe and should be used on board.

    We have a few dive centers that ban these ingredients from their operations, which of course I commend, but I believe its more beneficial to help educate the guests during briefings or trip confirmations, and let them make the right decisions.

    It amazes me that some people still want to use oxybenzone and take the time to argue that its safe. Besides the environmental implications, its a proven endocrine disruptor and was listed as the allergen of the year by the American Contact Dermatitis Association. There's not a health food store in the country that would carry a product with this ingredient. It reminds me of all the companies saying that parabens were ok back in the early 90's.

    @tbone1004 - quoting Dr. Cheryl Woodley of the NOAA Coral Health Program: "...the research documenting the toxicity of oxybenzone on corals is extensive.' See attached testimony. If you'd like copies of any of the studies, we link to most on our website at www.stream2sea.com

    Again, in full disclosure, we make sunscreens and bodycare products that have been tested safe on freshwater fish, saltwater fish and coral larvae. I agree with @Wookie - there's enough science out there and safe alternatives. Why not choose a product that is better for you and better for the environment?
     

    Attached Files:

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