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Sunscreens Pose a Threat to Coral Reefs
, 11/2/2015

According to a publication of a new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), published in the journal "Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology", pollution reduces resistance to coral bleaching process and their ability to recover from it.

This study indicated that a chemical substance found in sun protective creams is harmful and jeopardizes the survival of coral reefs.

The report states that oxybenzone, or better known as the BP-3 or benzophenone-3, is present in about 3,500 sunscreens products worldwide, and it presents an ecological threat to coral reefs, jeopardizing their own survival.

This substance is transmitted to coral reefs by divers wearing sunscreen on the skin on their dives, and spilled sewage coming from the municipal coastal estuaries and septic systems.

The study showed that in turn exposing the coral seedlings (coral offspring) to oxybenzone causes severe morphological deformation, damage DNA and acts as endocrine disruptor, which the coral is encapsulated in its own skeleton and causes it death.

The researcher added that “the slightest effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could represent the survival of coral reef during a warm summer or recovery of a degraded area”.

Because between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen are dumped each year in areas with coral reefs, researchers evaluated that this puts at least 10% of the world's coral reefs at high risk of exposure, judging by the distribution of reefs in coastal tourist areas.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), corals and mangroves absorb up to 90 percent of the energy of wind-generated waves.