Scientists uncover how sunscreen chemicals become toxic to corals

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Middle East
  • Date: 13-May-2022
  • Source: World Economic…
  • Sector: Industrial
  • Country: Middle East
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Scientists uncover how sunscreen chemicals become toxic to corals





Sunscreens can cause considerable harm to our coral ecosystem, new research shows.

Scientists found that corals absorb oxybenzone from sunscreen and convert it into phototoxins. These molecules then become harmful when exposed to sunlight.

Even supposedly 'reef-safe' sunscreens were found to contain chemicals that could harm coral, they said.



Awareness of the impacts that some sunscreens can have on coral reefs has been on the rise in recent years. But while scientists knew that chemicals like oxybenzone were causing problems, they weren’t exactly sure why or how. Now, a group of environmental chemists and biologists has come up with an explanation.

The scientists first started their research because they wanted to know if the chemicals in “reef-safe” sunscreens were actually safer for corals compared to oxybenzone. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sunscreens can wash off human skin as we swim or shower, then the sunscreen may accumulate on corals. There, the chemicals can trigger bleaching events or damage DNA.











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