Is your sanitizer reef safe?
As hand sanitizers become a part of our daily lives, Stream2Sea CEO and avid diver Autumn Blum says it’s time to take a hard look at the products on the market.
“When it all started, we were just happy to find sanitizers on store shelves so many of us didn’t take the time to read the ingredients,” she says. “If you look carefully though, some of those ingredients are pretty scary – for our coral reefs and for our own bodies.”
At the height of the pandemic, the government lifted restrictions and eased barriers for manufacturers to help reduce the shortage, but that inadvertently encouraged a flood of sub-standard products.
Even beyond the recall of sanitizers containing methanol, many commercial hand sanitizers are using ingredients that aren’t safe for people or the environment.
Microplastics in Sanitizers
Although microplastic beads have been banned from toothpastes and body lotions, many cosmetics still contain hidden microplastics. And hand sanitizer is no exception to that. More than 97% of the sanitizer gels on the market today contain ingredients commonly considered to be microplastics. These include acrylates copolymer and carbomer.
True to Stream2Sea’s planet-friendly mission, both sanitizer formulas are 100% natural, plant based and microplastic free.
All Alcohol Isn’t Created Equally
“Sanitizers are usually made with commercially denatured alcohol, which is just ethanol mixed with a substance that makes it unsuitable for human consumption and less likely to be consumed recreationally,” Blum said. “The most common alcohol being used for sanitizer is called SDA 40-B ethanol. It contains denatonium benzoate and tert-butanol, denaturants that are often not listed on product labels. After reading the SDS (safety data sheets) on these ingredients, I would never use them in our formulas, or intentionally put them on my body or near our waters.”
Among other warnings, the data sheets clearly state:
- May cause central nervous system depression.
- May be absorbed through the skin.
- Causes serious eye damage.
- Fatal if inhaled.
- Material may be irritating to the mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract.
Reading Labels Doesn’t Always Count
The FDA specifically includes the use of tert-butanol as a denaturant without requiring that it is listed on the label in a temporary policy implemented while hand sanitizers were in short stock. This goes against the standard policy for hand sanitizers, which are regulated as OTC drugs and typically require all ingredients be listed.
With its headquarters in Florida, Stream2Sea was able to secure locally produced ethanol made from distilled orange peels or sugarcane waste. Rather than chemical denaturants, Stream2Sea sanitizers are made ‘unedible’ using natural camphor and eucalyptus essential oils, both of which are traditionally used in herbal medicine. Rather than using propylene glycol – an ingredient found in both antifreeze and commercial sanitizers – as a moisturizer, Stream2Sea uses vegetarian glycerin and Vitamin E. The formula is extraordinarily effective as well. Challenge tests require sanitizers kill 99.99% of germs within 60 seconds; this was shown to be clinically effective in less than 15 seconds.
A Crash Course for Blum
Learning the ins and outs of manufacturing sanitizer was a crash course for Blum, an award-winning cosmetic chemist who started Stream2Sea to make reef-safe sunscreens and body care products. “One day we were gearing up for a busy beach and cruise season, the next day we were pretty much shut down,” she said.
With a dozen employees and an idle FDA-registered manufacturing facility, making hand sanitizer was the answer to keeping her company going as the pandemic shut down many businesses.
“We’re all making compromises through this crisis but, as divers and as a nation, we need to be aware of the ingredients we are purchasing, so we know exactly what we’re putting on our bodies and spreading across our planet.
As our world and our dive centers gets back to business, “We look forward to continuing to educate divers about reef safe sunscreen and body care ingredients, and will now include sanitizers and microplastics in trainings.”
Jeff chats to… Marine Biologist and Underwater Videographer Jake Davies (Watch Video)
In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jake Davies, Marine Biologist, HSE Professional scuba diver, underwater videographer (using videos and 360 clips for VR) and CAA licensed drone pilot.
Jake grew up on Pen Llŷn, North Wales and coming from a maritime family meant that from a young age the underwater world and marine life have played a major role in his life. His interest in marine life and the sea led to him studying Marine Biology at Bangor University where he was successful in obtaining a year in industry with the Intertidal & Coastal team at Natural Resources Wales.
In 2017 Jake was successfully awarded a Sea-Changers Grant to run ‘Dive Into Monitoring: Seagrass’ surveys with SeaSearch North Wales. The surveys aimed to gather updated information on the Seagrass bed in Porthdinllaen with volunteer divers and local dive clubs.
As a media diver, Jake has worked as part of the dive team (Marine Ecosol) filming for BBC Wales Hidden Wales with Will Millard (Lazerbeam Productions & Folk Films).
Footage which Jake has filmed off the Welsh Coast, as well as the Canary Islands, has been featured for a variety of BBC programmes including an episode of Countryfile where he was interviewed about the Seagrass in Porthdinllaen, Wales along with the rest of the Project Seagrass team. He is also a blogger and contributor to Scubaverse @JDScuba, and a co-director of Under Water Wales @dandwrcymru.
As well as being a HSE Scuba Diver Jake is also employed as the Project Coordinator for Angel Shark Project: Wales. He is also a Project Leader on a Save Our Seas Foundation Project.
Through sharing underwater videos and photos of amazing and unique wildlife/habitats that are found beneath the waves along the Welsh Coast as well as abroad Jake hopes to inspire people to go beneath the waves and making the underwater world more accessible for all.
Find out more about Jake and his work at: https://jakeddavies1996.wixsite.com/jdscuba
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
Once in a lifetime magical sighting of an Albino Risso’s Dolphin… (Watch Video)
Is there anything more rewarding during your surface interval after a great dive than seeing unusual animals in your surroundings?
It was November and we had been for a great dive with big fishes and a lot of macro animals in one of our favorite dive sites here in Anda, Bohol. After the dive, we immediately got our coffee and started chatting and debriefing our dive, exchanging thoughts, when our boat captain spotted something not so far from the resort. We rushed to the scene and it there we had the magical experience to see a pod of dolphins in front of us with a surprise sighting of an albino dolphin! Witnessing an albino animal in the wild is such a rare phenomenon – could anything be more exciting?!?!
Albinism results from the animal’s cells failing to produce the melanin pigment responsible for some body part colorations. Hence, this animal lacks the skin cell pigment resulting in it being a pinkish-white dolphin.
As we rushed to look at the dolphins after our dive, we noticed something white. It was so obvious that we could clearly see the white animal mixed with the grey individuals at a certain distance before we arrived. The first question that raised in my head was: “What species of dolphins are these?”
As I looked and observed, I noticed the recognizable lines or scratches all over their bodies (all of them that is except for the white one). Then, looking at their faces when we were closer, it was then I realized that they were Risso’s Dolphins. The white animal that we saw was a rare juvenile Albino Risso’s swimming with them. Ohlalah…. JACKPOT!!!! This was the highlight of a lifetime!!!
I started screaming with joy calling the beautiful animal “PUTI” which literally means white. With them swimming, we went close by to appreciate PUTI and the rest of the pod every time they surfaced for breathing. Together we shared about 20mins of full excitement. And we ended our surface interval incredibly happy and ready for the next exciting dive, waiting to be surprised underwater.
I will never forget this magical moment of the albino dolphin. Hopefully, PUTI and I will meet again sometime and I will be seeing this white beauty again, healthy and adorable.
Written by: Marlon Managa – dive center manager and Marine Biologist at Magic Oceans Dive Resort.
Visit Magic Oceans Anda, Bohol and Magic Island Moalboal, Cebu… find out more at www.magicresorts.online.
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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue. With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after.
Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life. The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.
£1475 per person based on double occupancy. Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available. Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp. Flights and transfers are included. See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.
This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place. Come Dive with Us!
Call 020 3515 9955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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