I am sure everyone has always wondered if their sun screen is actually safe for them to use. For something to protect you from something as powerful as UV rays from the sun, it must come with its own set of risks. What most of society didn’t consider was how a product like sun screen could be so damaging to the ocean and its inhabitants. This is why Hawaii has become the first state to put their foot down and ban the chemicals that have been directly linked to harming and killing the coral in their ocean: octinoxate and oxybenzone.
Oxybenzone is the primary culprit when it comes to damaging the colorful, living rocks. Not only is it very clear that it is killing coral but also mutating its DNA which can lead to infertility. One of the biggest issues is that the holes where coral release their seeds so they can reproduce often get clogged from the negative effects of this chemical. Once these pathways are closed off, the coral can no longer reproduce and it will even have trouble taking in new food. This starves the coral and leaves nothing but a skeleton behind since the seeds remain trapped inside until they wither away after death. What is clogging these vital pathways though if the oxybenzone is merely poisoning and altering the DNA of the coral?
This is where octinoxate comes in. This chemical when taken in by the coral creates “bleaching”. This is a process where the coral begins dumping all of its stored food and nutrients out from its openings. It is a similar process to when we throw up to remove whatever may be causing us to become ill. It is meant to be a way of purging it’s system, but with a constant supply of octinoxate, it has no chance to ever store food and nutrients. Instead, it just continues trying to flush its system of a toxin it has no chance of fighting off.
With this ban, it makes the statement that we care about what we put in our oceans and waters and that we don’t want to see sea life that we love disappear. An even better question to ask ourselves is that if this is what is happening to coral in the sea, then what is happening to us as we rub that same poison into our skins? A great way to avoid being poisoned by these chemicals is by searching for a mineral based sun-screen, just always check the label to make sure that what you are buying is safe for you and for the ocean!
We have always used the same brands of cleaning products since the day we were born. You probably used for the same reason that all of us use them, and it isn’t because of their clever ad campaigns. We purchase these products simply out of habit as our parents bought them because their parents did as well. A long time ago these cleaning products were the only thing we had so no one ever thought to questions what might be in them and how could they be affecting our bodies.
Well someone finally took the time to see just how harmful ingredients like ammonia and bleach can really be and it turns out that the two key ingredients for making mustard gas are dangerous for you no matter what amount of the chemicals are used. The study followed over 6,200 people for 20 years and specifically studied the effects of cleaning products on both the deterioration of lung capacity and the obstruction it causes to your airways.
So how bad can it be? It turns out that cleaning your home once a week with these products is the equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for an entire week. The damage doesn’t stop there though as others that are living in the house experience side-effects, just not as bad as the “first-hand” cleaner. Women tended to be more affected than men were and it appears that those that used the products periodically was more damaging than someone who worked with them on a regular basis. The speculation on this is that cleaning professionals are away of the dangers of cleaners and often wear protective masks.
The scariest part about this is that the evidence appears to be concrete. Normally studies like this can be shaken off due to a short period of research time or a lack of subjects being tested, but over 6000 people for the course of 20 years is a lot of evidence to ignore. In fact, major networks and publishers from CNN to The New York Times have acknowledged the article and it is published in the most credible of sources. To learn more, check out the actual study at http://www.thoracic.org/about/newsroom/press-releases/resources/women-cleaners-lung-function.pdf
So how do we combat this? We still have to clean our homes, but obviously we don’t want to continue poisoning our families and ourselves! There are natural ways to clean that are anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, so don’t give up hope. From Tea-tree oil to vinegar, switching to a natural cleaner can make your home safe from the germs without constantly burning out the aioli in your lungs!