I am an expatriate homeowner in Treasure Cay that reads your newspaper during the times spent here. I enjoy your incisive and spirited editorials on all things political and socio-economic in The Bahamas, and particularly Abaco. John Cash is a friend of some 25 years and suggested I contact you.
To my naked eye your coral reefs are under stress having observed them since 1989. I am not surprised. Every sunscreen sold on this island and the adjacent keys contain the geno-toxic chemical benzophenone (also known as oxybenzone) that is used as a UVB filter. It is not ideal for humans either- rapidly absorbed into blood, reaches all tissues including the brain within 2-3 hours. It is known to be a human hormone disruptor linked with the entire group of EDCs to numerous human disorders from cancers to infertility in both genders, ADHD, autism, and asthma in children, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease in older adults.
I advise all consumers to avoid this filter and its structural cousins, but particularly expectant or nursing mothers, young or adolescent children, and couples tying to conceive.
Scientific studies confirm its devastating effects on the marine eco-system. Even in concentrations of parts per billion – found in municipal wastewater – this skeletal disruptor destroys the planulae and prevent coral larvae from surviving.
A 2015 study found that reefs in Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands had alarming levels in ocean water that reached mg/L- from the cumulative washing -off from bathers over time, of this soluble chemical. This prompted the State of Hawaii in 2016 to table a law in the legislature for an absolute ban on sunscreens containing benzophenone.
This needs publicity.
The Caribbean has lost 80% of its coral in the past 40 years- that parallels the advent of mass tourism and millions of people using our island beaches and swimming in the sea.
I am not sure what the situation in The Bahamas is at present but this is low hanging fruit where eco-preservation is concerned. If The Bahamas stopped selling these sunscreen poisons your reefs and the health of all the sunscreen users would be the better for it.
Dr. Denis K. Dudley MD, FRCS(C)