Oxybenzone and Coral Reef – Real news? Fake news? Good science? Bad science?

Hawaii is taking a strong position on banning an ingredient found in many sunscreens, Oxybenzone. It’s also looking at other ingredients that help protect humans as well.

I have been making sunscreens for over 24 years and have cared about the environment my whole life. As a race, we are consumers and we are consuming the earth, we have been very hard on our planet and we continue to deplete the ozone and add more “crap/poison” into our air and water. 

What is killing the coral reefs, what we know for sure is: pollution, climate change (real or fake), overfishing and coral bleaching. What is coral bleaching? Bleaching occurs when the coral-algae alliance breaks down, which was rare until a few decades ago. In the early 1980’s is when bleaching began to appear, gradually spreading to reefs until a “global bleaching” event finally struck in 1998, which killed an estimated 16 percent of all corals on Earth. 

coral bleachingJokiel was one of the first scientists to study coral bleaching in the early ’70s, thanks to a sneak preview in Hawaii’s Kaneohe Bay. Once-vibrant reefs had turned white just as a new power plant began dumping hot water into the bay, alarming coral experts. “None of the scientists who were out here in the 1970s had ever seen a bleached coral,” Jokiel says. They soon proved not only that hot water can bleach coral, but that each species has its own range of tolerable temperatures. “We showed that all corals in the world are living within 1 to 2 degrees [Celsius] of their upper limit in the summer months,” Jokiel adds. “It’s that small of a difference, but it has held up beautifully through time.” Until recently, that is. While the Kaneohe Bay events weren’t caused by climate change, they did offer a glimpse of what it can do. It’s not that reefs simply roast; rather, warmer water makes zooxanthellae start producing toxins, forcing the corals to evict their algae back out to sea — and leaving a reef looking “bleached,” with its white skeleton showing through the translucent polyps.

It’s possible that bleached reefs sometimes reunite with their algae, if the water cools back down, but oceans are expected to keep heating up for centuries, that chance may be fading. 

As I read more information and tried to come up with “what’s killing the coral” I’m trying to understand the tie to oxybenzone and other chemicals. The bleaching of the coral, found back in 1970 had NOTHING to do with oxybenzone, it was the HOT water. 

The Oxybenzone Abstract (scare) was done by Margaret Schlump in 2001 (she contacted me directly in 2002 to further fund her study/test, as we didn’t use Oxybenzone or Retinyl Palmitate and we still don’t in our sunscreens). The paper was based on immature rats, 21 day old rats, fed whopping (astronomically high) doses of oxybenzone for 4 days. It would take a human 200+ years to obtains this much oxybenzone. I told her I wasn’t interested in funding the testing. Please see attached her info: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11333184

In 2004 Schlumpf et al. published more data demonstrating binding of estrogen receptors by oxybenzone. To assess the estrogenic levels, the rats were euthanized and the uteri were removed and weighed. It worth noting, that no acute toxicities were reported in the rats during the treatment period. The data did show an increase of 23% in the uterine weight of rats exposed to this oxybenzone.

As human being, we are not rats so the gold standard to any study is to test on humans. One such study was done in 2004. It involved 15 young males and 17 postmenopausal females, using a topical cream formulation using 10% oxybenzone. A systemic absorption of oxybenzone was observed in both males & females. After 24-96 hours, the plasma concentration for both groups did not differ, indicating that oxybenzone did not accumulate in the plasma, rather it was excreted in the urine. More work remains to be performed but available evidence does not demonstrate biologically significant hormonal disruption of oxybenzone in humans.

Look up a “Sunscreen Critical Review” from two PHd’s from Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute. It really is good science and it provides great information on each ingredient.

bü sunscreen products are manufactured to pharmaceutical grade standards.  One of the biggest issues that will hopefully come up, is that “natura/organicl”? sunscreen manufacturers are NOT disclosing some inactive ingredients on their labels, so they can get better results on the EWG site. Great brands like California Baby was “quietly” taken off the market for 6 months in 2011, while they reformulated, due to parabens and preservatives they had found in their products, and in 2013, Badger had a recall of their Kids and Baby product for potentially dangerous Bacteria and Fungus found during testing. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/badger-kids-sunscreens-recalled-for-bacteria-fungus/

As a manufacturer of sunscreen for over 24 years, using Titanium, Zinc, and all the chemicals, I can say without fear of contradiction, no one really knows? which is the best? and which one of the three options, could potentially harm you the most? Sun, Chemical, Mineral. After speaking to numerous doctors and competitors, I believe the best sunscreen is one that you will use! It should feel great on your skin, is easy to apply and work!  We’ve also learned, it’s the one that Kids will allow you to put on, and we get rave reviews from Kids.

As I mentioned earlier I care about the environment and take pride in our environmental stewardship using recyclable packaging and recyclable non-pressurized aerosol pumps, so when the bottle is empty, it can go right in your recycling box. All our products are produced using sustainable Solar power, bü – using the power of the sun to protect you for the power of the sun!