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Swimmers’ sunscreen kills coral

Swimmers’ sunscreen kills coral
FEBRUARY 9, 2008óCommon ingredients in sunscreen activate dormant viruses in algae that cause the algae to explode and kill the coral beds they feed.

Additionally, when the algae explodes, it releases the virus into nearby coral beds.

The algae provides the coral with food energy through photosynthesis. Without the algae, the coral bleaches white and dies.

“The algae that live in the coral tissue and feed these animals explode or are just released by the tissue, thus leaving naked the skeleton of the coral,” study leader Roberto Danovaro of the Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy told National Geographic.

Swimmers leave 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen in the world’s oceans worldwide, threatening about 10 percent of the world’s coral, the study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found.

Even low levels of sunscreen can trigger the virus, which can decimate a coral bed in as few as four days.

The study showed that seawater around the infected coral beds was 15 times more likely to contain the algae-killing virus.

Paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone and a camphor derivative are the common sunscreen ingredients found to activate the virus.

While signs point to banning sunscreen for oceangoers, Danovaro said that won’t be necessary. There are two things swimmers can do to reduce their impact on coral: One, choose a sunscreen that reflects rather than absorbs ultraviolet radiation; two, use an eco-friendly sunscreen.

Researchers in Australian are hard at work on a sunscreen based on a natural ultraviolet-blocking compound found in coral.

Read more: Beauty, Holistic Beauty, , , , , ,

By Care2 editorial staff

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


+ add your own
5:15AM PDT on May 4, 2013

Thank you Annie, for Sharing this!

11:14AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013


6:35AM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

This totally makes sense, chemicals are just that , chemicals in the air or soil, or water can pollute and destroy ecosystems .

6:27PM PDT on Apr 20, 2013

This is very disgustingly sick!

It is always the humans who are destroying this and that.
If one is so afraid of the UV rays,then just stay off that seas, and give these corals a chance to breathe and grow properly

6:48PM PST on Dec 10, 2012

sunscreen, nothing like putting carcinogenic chemicals on your body to stop the formation of vitamin D., it's not even a vitamin, it's a steroid hormone that the sun converts lipids( fats) on your skin, then your body slowly absorbs them. just sad, more chemicals to kill the environment, when will humans ever learn?

6:32PM PST on Nov 22, 2012


6:32PM PST on Nov 22, 2012


6:43AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

thank you!

8:13PM PST on Nov 21, 2012


1:19AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Thank you for the post

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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