This morning I had two conflicting articles to edit on the topic of sunscreen, both very good on their own merits and fields of study.
The first article was from experts at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies. This particular study suggested that some ingredients in sunscreen could be harmful to certain forms of marine life, phytoplankton to be exact – a very important part of the marine food chain.
Researchers Antonio Tovar-Sanchez and David Sánchez-Quiles say “the titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles which are found in sunblock can react with UV light from the sun and form hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).” Hydrogen peroxide is “a strong oxidizing agent that generates high levels of stress on marine phytoplankton.”
Despite their research, they caution that sunscreen is still the best way to protect human skin from hazardous UV rays, provided that staying indoors is not an option.
Which leads me to the next article…
Artist and photographer Thomas Leveritt set out to showcase some new and cool technology. What quickly happened, however, has certainly become the best visual argument ever for wearing sunscreen.
By using several cameras, Leveritt was able to capture his subjects’ faces as they look in real life, as well as what they look like under a special UV lens. Let’s just say the results were astonishing, spectacular, humorous and a bit scary.
Once his subjects were shown what damage the sun had already done to their skin, he then had them apply sunscreen. Under the special filters, the sunscreen looks completely black – evidence that the protective liquid really does block out the sun’s harmful rays.
So there you have it. We all need sunscreen. That’s a fact you should never ignore. But what can be done to avoid damage to those little creatures that are at the bottom of the marine food chain, thereby protecting even larger species, even whales?
Image above courtesy Thomas Leveritt