Could This Common Product Be Killing the Oceans?

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Interviewer:  Dr. Elizabeth Plourd. How didyou get interested in this topic?  I think that was kind of an interestingstory, the background of how you got started looking into sunscreens.

Elizabeth Plourd, C.L.S. NCMP, PhD: It'samazing, because I love scuba diving, love snorkeling, and have been aroundcoral reefs for 40 years. Been swimming in Hawaiian waters for 40 years. Andwhile I was there last summer, every day it was so cold I had to tell myself toget in the water. I like to swim every day for a couple hours and I would haveto inch my way in. It was so cold, and here they had headlines in the paper'Coral Reefs Dying Due to Global Warming', and I'm going 'no, I'm shivering inhere, this is not warm water'.  It's warmer. it's not as warm as I felt itin the past.  

So, I thought this doesn't compute and being amedical researcher I thought  I wanna find out why. So I uncovered veryquickly the research that absolutely proves that sunscreen kills coral in 96hours. That quickly, the coral is dead.  And so I thought I wanna save thecoral reefs because they are dying around the world. And started to create abook that I thought would take 4 months maybe, just on coral reefs. And I hadno idea, when I got into them that they act as hormones, and being a hormonespecialist and having  been a researcher and written a book on hormones, Ididn't realize I needed that type of expertise in order to explain what washappening with these chemicals.  

And then as I kept exploring and realized thatit's also blocking vitamin D, and now we have a huge worldwide vitamin Ddeficiency and all the diseases that come up from vitamin D deficiency. I wasjust horrified, I realized the world needed to know, so the book kept expandingand expanding and expanding, and so now it's finally out and it really covershow it impacts not only the coral, but impacts all the aquatic and marine life.It impacts human life, it impacts all mammals because they act as estrogens andtestosterones.

Interviewer: So from some of your early researchyou found that the sunscreens are actually polluting the waters that you wereswimming in, just from people putting them on and then going into those waters.

Elizabeth Plourd, C.L.S. NCMP, PhD: Well, theresearch shows that it actually physically kills it in 96 hours even at a very,very low concentration that they did it when they were doing it in a laboratorysetting.  So the fact that they're dying around the world, the two just gotogether. And the places, the tourist places that didn't have great tourism,during events where the waters did warm, because if the coral is stressed byanything, and then the waters rise a few degrees, that will kill them. But,even though the water rose to those degrees in places that still didn't havetourism, they didn't experience the coral bleach or the dying. And then theyears after all the tourism started flooding in, if the waters rose a fewdegrees, they experienced the bleaching also.  So it really goes alongthat the use of sunscreen is absolutely being part of the coral death.



Dr. Elizabeth Plourde explains that it may not be global warming, but sunscreen that is actually killing coral reefs and other marine life. She explains how the chemicals in sunscreens affect the coral and other animals in the sea.

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