18 February 2017

Keep Your Shirt On, Save Some Coral?

Posted by John Freeland

Photo source: State of Hawaii

This is not great news, especially for those of us who like to be out in the sun but get really bad sunburns. As reported by Nature and Scientific American, Hawaii state senator Will Espero has introduced a bill to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals that may pose risks to us, such as endocrine disruption, as well as to coral.

The Environmental Working Group maintains lists of what it has determined are more and less safe sunscreen brands (linking to the list does not necessarily constitute product endorsement).

As a soil scientist, why am I writing about this? I stumbled upon this story while researching biosolids, derived from treated municipal sludge, which are being applied to farm fields as cheap fertilizer. Unfortunately, pharmaceuticals and personal care products found in the waste stream are also going into the soil.

From an environmental standpoint, once again, we have met the enemy and he is us.