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Sunscreens and Coral Reef Bleaching

We all know SPF is important to protect us against sunburn and cancer. Obviously, I want people to give consideration to the toxic ingredients for the sake of their skin but did you know that sunscreen could be damaging the marine environment? This blog post was prompted by a tweet I spotted.


I decided to do a bit more research and this is what I discovered. In 2008 a scientific paper entitled "Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections" was published. The study was carried out by Roberto Danovaro and his colleagues at the Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy. It was found that four sunscreen ingredients (Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), Butylparaben, Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor) trigger a dormant virus which in turn leads to the coral turning white (bleaching). It is estimated that 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen annually wash off beach goers (from nationalgeographic.com)

I think it is interesting and concerning that some ingredients are potentially harmful to our bodies but they are also damaging to our environment. If you are lucky enough to be swimming or snorkelling around coral reef you need to consider switching your sunscreen to a green brand.