Tuesday, June 18, 2024

SPF and RPF? This Sunscreen Is the First Designed to Nourish Coral Reefs

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Meet Reef Relief, the world’s first sunscreen with RPF: reef protection factor.

The resort city of Eilat, Israel, has announced the development of Reef Relief — a sunscreen that it says is the world’s first sunscreen designed not only to protect skin from UV rays but also to nourish and support endangered coral reefs as it washes off in the ocean.

The development came as Eilat is home to the planet’s northernmost shallow-water reef and is committed to safeguarding it as well as the world’s other coral reefs, which face significant threats from climate change, pollution, and human activities.

Sunscreen also plays a role in damaging reefs; each year, around 14,000 tons of sunscreen are estimated to end up in the world’s oceans, with as many as 80 percent of conventional sunscreens containing chemicals that contribute to coral bleaching and dying reefs.

Reef Relief sunscreen
Reef Relief is the first sunscreen designed to nourish reefs | Courtesy

While some manufacturers have started to remove harmful chemicals like oxybenzone from their products, the new Reef Relief sunscreen goes a step further to protect and help coral reefs thrive.

Working with both marine and skincare specialists, the new formulation is based on a non-nano, Ecocert-compliant, titanium-dioxide-based mineral sunscreen that has undergone extensive aquatic safety testing. This includes tests on c. elegans, freshwater fish, saltwater fish, and coral larvae. Reef Relief also incorporates a unique blend of FDA-compliant trace minerals used by coral farmers to support healthy coral growth.

“The development of a sunscreen that not only doesn’t harm coral but has the potential to feed and nourish our reefs is an important step towards protecting and preserving our oceans. Reef Relief could feed into the health of communities underwater and on land,” Giovanni Giallongo, a Marine Biologist at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Eilat, said in a statement.

Reef Relief sunscreen also introduces a new certification called Reef Protection Factor (RPF), in addition to the existing SPF rating. Numerous products claim to be ‘reef-friendly’ or ‘reef-safe,’ but the lack of regulation in this area means consumers can be easily misled. It is hoped that the RPF certification will become an industry standard and spread beyond Israel to help consumers make responsible choices worldwide.

“This is a way of identifying sunscreen that truly cares for coral. An RPF marque as an industry standard: this could be game-changing,” Giallongo said.

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