Swimmers Just Trying To Protect Their Skin May Be Destroying Coral Reefs Without Realizing It

Swimmers Just Trying To Protect Their Skin May Be Destroying Coral Reefs Without Realizing It

You slather on that sunscreen for protection, but did you know that while it may be protecting you from dangerous sun rays, it's harming something else.

It's that time of year again — summer. The time, where if you're lucky enough and you live close you flock to the beaches. You slather on that sunscreen for protection, but did you know that while it may be protecting you from dangerous sun rays, its harming something else.

The Coral Reefs.

A chemical found in sunscreen may be contributing to the destruction of coral reefs as swimmers that are just trying to protect their skin are unknowingly harming coral reefs.

New research from the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, found that a chemical called oxybenzone has toxic effects on young coral that causes endocrine disruption, DNA damage, and death of coral, among other the problems.

Oxybenzone is a pale yellow solid that is soluble in most organic solvents. It absorbs at lower energies than many aromatic molecules. Oxybenzone is used in many plastics as an ultraviolet light absorber and stabilizer and can be found in many other products such as the sunscreen (that is harming the coral reefs), hairsprays and other cosmetics because it along with other benzophenones help prevent damage from sun exposure.

So what is the problem and how is it related to the coral reefs?

One of the major problems it causes is the bleaching of coral, which is when the coral expels the algae (zooxanthellae) that are living in the tissues and in turn causes the coral to turn completely white. However, the coral isn't dead. It can survive the bleaching event, it just becomes under more stress and more subject to mortality.

At the moment between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen enter the coral reef areas around the world each year. This is a lot considering it doesn't take much to reach toxic effects. It has become a significant ecological threat.

Currently, there are no completely "reef-friendly" sunscreens, there are some with titanium oxide or zinc oxide, which are natural mineral ingredients, have not been found harmful to corals.

On the flip side, this does not mean that you should not wear sunscreen to protect yourself from many things such as skin cancer. But instead, consider what sunscreen you are using before going into the ocean.

Sunscreen isn't the only the only threat to our oceans either. More than 60% of coral reefs are at a risk of being impacted not only by the oxybenzone in the sunscreen but by other factors such as climate change, overfishing, disease, and marine pollutants.

Coral reefs play an important role in our ecosystem. They serve as local economies through tourism and fishing. They also protect the global environment by being carbon sinks and absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2

) that could otherwise contribute to global warming.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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A Florida House Committee Is Undermining Your Vote On Amendment 4

Before felons can regain their right to vote, they must pay court fines, fees, and take care of any other "financial obligations." Essentially, this is a poll tax.


Amendment 4, also known as the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative, was added to the Constitution of Florida after being passed this last midterm election on November 6, 2018.

Amendment 4 restored the voting rights of Floridians with prior felony convictions after all terms of their sentence have been met, including parole and probation. This amendment only applies to felons who have not been convicted of murder or sexual offenses.

On January 8, 2019, an estimated 1.4 million ex-felons regained their right to vote. This is monumental. Prior to this amendment, Florida was one of four states that used felony disenfranchisement. Amendment 4 gives voice, and rightfully so, to felons who have served their time. Amendment 4 is also putting to rest, finally, years and years of disenfranchisement and suppression.

Now, only two months after its passage, the House Criminal Justice Committee is trying to water down this piece of legislation. This is a direct violation of the will of the 64% of Floridians who voted for the legislation as is. This amendment was not to be "clarified," as Governor DeSantis put it, but rather to be self-implementing.

However, the House Criminal Justice Committee proposed a bill that would tack on some extra qualifiers in order for felons to be enfranchised. The bill will require court fines, fees, and other "financial obligations" (in addition to fees administered in a judge's sentence) to be paid in full before a felon's voting rights are restored. This seems awfully similar to a poll tax to me. Obviously, this is going to affect people without a lot of resources rather than white-collar criminals who can afford a $500,000 bond.

This new qualifier will prevent felons from voting based on the money that can be coughed up as if they don't have to worry about their finances long after they leave prison.

Some may argue that these felons shouldn't have committed a crime in the first place. However, I would argue that holding a felon's vote hostage on the basis of money is unconstitutional.

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