Thailand's Sunscreen Ban
Sunscreen is a vital part of our daily routine, especially when we are out and about during the day. But while sunscreen helps to protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun's UV rays, it can also be detrimental to the health of coral reefs.
Certain chemicals found in many sunscreens have been shown to cause damage to coral reefs and other marine life, leading to a growing concern about the use of these products and a push for more reef-safe alternatives.
Check Your Sunscreen
Several suncream chemicals have been identified as potentially harmful to the marine environment and coral reefs. These chemicals can cause damage to the coral reefs and other marine life in a number of ways, including:
- Oxybenzone: This chemical has been shown to cause coral bleaching, disrupt coral reproduction, and even cause coral death.
- Octinoxate: Another chemical that can cause coral bleaching and damage coral's DNA, leading to deformities and other harmful effects.
- Homosalate: This chemical has been linked to coral bleaching and can interfere with coral's ability to photosynthesize. Octocrylene: This chemical can cause coral bleaching and has been shown to accumulate in the tissues of fish and other marine organisms.
- Avobenzone: This chemical can cause damage to coral and other marine organisms, and has been shown to contribute to the development of viruses that can harm coral reefs.
These chemicals are often found in many conventional sunscreens, and their use can have a significant impact on the health of marine ecosystems. When these chemicals are washed off in the water, they can accumulate in the tissues of marine organisms, leading to a range of harmful effects.
Which chemicals are banned in Thailand's marine parks?
In 2018, Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation announced a ban on the use of certain chemicals in sunscreens that can be harmful to coral reefs. The banned chemicals include:
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
These chemicals are known to cause damage to coral reefs and other marine life, and can contribute to coral bleaching, which can have a devastating impact on the marine ecosystem.
The ban on these chemicals applies to all marine national parks in Thailand, including popular destinations such as the Similan Islands, Surin Islands, and Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park.
The ban is part of a larger effort to protect Thailand's marine ecosystem, which is home to a diverse range of marine life, including more than 300 species of coral.
By banning these harmful chemicals in sunscreens, the Thai government hopes to reduce the impact of tourism on the marine environment and preserve these delicate ecosystems for future generations.
Which Sunscreen can I use in Thailand's Marine Parks?
If you're planning a trip to Thailand's marine national parks, it's important to choose a sunscreen that is free from these banned chemicals. Look for products that are labeled as "reef safe" or "ocean-friendly" to ensure that you're doing your part to protect the environment while enjoying your time in the sun.
One of the most popular options is mineral-based sunscreen, which uses ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide sun protection without the use of harmful chemicals.
These ingredients are naturally occurring minerals that are safe for both humans and marine life, making them an excellent choice for those who are looking for a more environmentally friendly sunscreen option.
Dive & Relax Koh Lanta recommends Reef Repair Mineral Sunscreen, which is made locally on Phuket and contains zinc oxide.
We also sell Reef Repair sunscreen at our dive shop @ Lanta Castaway Beach Resort.
In addition to mineral-based sunscreens, there are also many other reef-safe options available that use organic, plant-based ingredients to provide sun protection.
These products are free from harmful chemicals and are formulated with ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil to nourish and protect the skin while also being safe for the environment.
Cover Up is Best
Covering up your skin with clothing, such as a t-shirt, is a more natural and effective way to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays than using chemical sunscreens. Here are a few reasons why:
- Clothing provides physical protection: When you wear a shirt, it physically blocks the sun's rays from reaching your skin. This is different from chemical sunscreens, which work by absorbing or reflecting the sun's rays. Physical protection is a more effective way to block the sun's harmful UV rays.
- Clothing is more reliable: Sunscreens can wear off, rub off, or become less effective over time. Clothing, on the other hand, remains a reliable form of protection as long as it covers your skin. You don't need to worry about reapplying clothing, and you can be confident that you're getting consistent protection throughout the day.
- Clothing is safer for the environment: Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that can be harmful to marine life and coral reefs when they wash off in the water. By covering up with clothing instead, you can help reduce the amount of sunscreen that ends up in the water and protect the marine environment.