What is non-mineral sunscreen and how does it harm the reef?

Non-mineral sunscreen is any sunscreen that uses an active ingredient other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (mineral UV filters). When we swim in the ocean or shower at home, these non-mineral sunscreens (containing petrochemical UV filters) can wash off, enter our rivers and ocean, and harm corals and other marine life. According to NOAA, damage includes but is not limited to:

  • Coral: Accumulation in tissues; bleaching; DNA damage; deformed and killed young
  • Fish: Decreased fertility and reproduction; female characteristics in males 
  • Dolphins: Accumulation in tissues and transferred to young

For more information, please see: Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs

Show All Answers

1. What is non-mineral sunscreen and how does it harm the reef?
2. How and when will enforcement begin?
3. What products are allowed under the ban?
4. Is mineral sunscreen effective?
5. What is “reef friendly” and “reef safe” sunscreen?
6. What are the consequences of non-compliance?
7. How difficult is it to apply mineral sunscreen? Doesn’t mineral sunscreen leave a white residue or feel sticky on my skin?
8. Is my sunscreen really a problem? Don’t reefs face bigger threats?
9. How can I do more?