By: Tyler Treadway, Treasure Coast Newspapers
The Pelc family from Pennsylvania spread out over a section of sand to enjoy a warm, sunny February afternoon at Bathtub Beach.
Also spread out on one of their beach towels was an array of sunscreens: some in tubes, some in aerosol cans, some specifically for kids and all but one containing two chemicals — oxybenzone and octinoxate — researchers say kill coral reefs.
Sunscreens containing those chemicals have been banned in Key West and Hawaii, in January and July, respectively. Now, Florida Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat, has filed legislation (Senate Bill 708) to ban them in the Sunshine State unless the user has a prescription.
Andy Pelc said he'd be likely to switch to a reef-friendly sunscreen just because it's better for the environment.
"And if I didn't have a choice" because of a ban, he added, "of course, I'd use it."
A little dab will do
Oxybenzone “poses a hazard to coral reef conservation and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change,’’ according to a study published in the February 2016 issue of the "Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology."
When you swim with sunscreen on, the chemicals can seep into the water and be absorbed by corals, disrupting reproduction and growth. The corals turn white and die, a process known as "bleaching."
Even if you don't go in the water, sunscreen that's sprayed or rubbed on can get in the sand and be washed into the ocean.
Each year, about 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in the ocean, according to a different study published in the same "Archives" edition.
The equivalent of one drop of oxybenzone in 6½ Olympic-sized swimming pools can damage corals, according to research by Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia….