A proposed class action claims certain Banana Boat sunscreens have been falsely advertised as “Reef Friendly” when they contain ingredients deemed to be harmful to coral reefs.
The 26-page case more specifically claims the “Reef Friendly” Banana Boat Sport Ultra sunscreens made by defendant Edgewell Personal Care Brands, LLC contain at least two active ingredients that “are not safe for coral reefs and other marine life.”
According to the suit, consumers would not have purchased the products, or would have paid “significantly less” for them, had they known the truth about the sunscreen’s ingredients.
The lawsuit explains that coral and the algae that live on its surface have a symbiotic relationship whereby the algae provide energy through photosynthesis and give the coral its vibrant colors. When coral reefs are exposed to pollutants, however, the coral may experience stress and expel the algae, thereby losing its color and turning white. This process, also known as “bleaching,” could cause the coral to die and is one reason coral reefs are endangered, according to the complaint.
The case alleges that the chemicals found in sunscreen products have been known to wash into coral reefs and cause “abrupt and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations.” It’s for this reason that sunscreen manufacturers have begun to advertise and sell products that purport to be safe for coral reefs and marine life, the suit says.
Despite claiming to be “Reef Friendly,” however, the Banana Boat Sport Ultra sunscreen products contain avobenzone and octocrylene, two chemicals that can cause coral bleaching and are “well documented as being harmful to coral reefs,” the lawsuit alleges.
Avobenzone, according to the complaint, is “a known endocrine disruptor” that can hamper coral’s ability to withstand high ocean temperatures and may kill coral cells, inducing a “bleaching effect.” Octocrylene, another endocrine disruptor, can harm the reproduction and development of marine life, including coral and fish commonly found in coral reefs, the case relays. Per the suit, studies have shown that fish exposed to the chemical “exhibited endocrine disruption, brain deformities in larvae and reproductive toxicity.” Indeed, octocrylene is found on the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory’s list of ingredients known to be unsafe for marine life, as well as the National Ocean Service’s list of harmful chemicals, the case says.
In sum, the lawsuit argues that the “Reef Friendly” representation on Banana Boat Sport Ultra sunscreens is “false, misleading, and deceptive” given the products contain chemicals known to be harmful to coral reefs.
The following Banana Boat sunscreens are specifically mentioned in the lawsuit:
Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Lotion SPF 15
Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Spray SPF 15
Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+
Banana Boat Sport Coolzone Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
Banana Boat Sport Coolzone Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+
Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in California who purchased the Banana Boat “Reef Friendly” sunscreen products within the relevant statute of limitations period, with a proposed subclass for those who did so for personal, family or household purposes.
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