Are sunscreen products harmful to Bonaire's ecosystems?

Published on
November 24, 2017

Dr. Diana Slijkerman of Wageningen Marine Research was on Bonaire last November to study the presence of potentially harmful sunscreens. She took water samples of Lac Bay and conducted a survey among visitors from cruise ships on the beach. The water samples will be analysed to find the concentration of organic UV filters and preservatives, and environmental risks will be assessed.

Many of the cruise tourists, lounging on the beach at Sorobon, are clueless about the unique nature area they are visiting. But these same tourists become a very interested audience, when they learn about the nearby reef, seagrass beds and mangroves.

The interviewers from the Sunscreen Awareness Bonaire team asked Sorobon beach guests about the sunscreens they use. Interviewers asked for the brand, SPF and whether the sunscreen product contained oxybenzone. This information will be used to create an overview that provides better insight in the brands that are used at Sorobon.

The overall project 'Sunscreen Awareness Bonaire' aims to gain information on this matter and to better educate all stakeholders.

A question frequently asked to the sunscreen interviewers was: 'Which product should I use?' A legitimate question, but not so easy to answer. Many sunscreen brands carry a wide variety of ingredients. Upcoming research will focus on what products are really eco-friendly, in order to advise the public from a science rather than marketing background.

Sunscreen Awareness Bonaire is a joint initiative of Wageningen Marine Research, Boneiru Duradero and The World Wildlife Fund for Nature in the Netherlands, in which scientific research and public awareness are combined. The project is partly funded by KD and KB projects.

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