Study: Sunscreen damaging coral reefs across the world

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Study: Sunscreen Damaging Coral Reefs Across The World

Sunscreen might be protecting you from harmful UV rays, but its use by swimmers is likely damaging the world's already-threatened coral reefs.

Researchers have discovered that oxybenzone, a compound typically found in sunscreen, is highly concentrated in the popular destination waters and reefs of Hawaii and the Caribbean. The compound kills coral and may also cause harm to nearby animals while in their larval stage.

The discovery was made under laboratory conditions; researchers subjected adult coral cells and coral larvae to higher and higher concentrations of oxybenzone.

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Study: Sunscreen damaging coral reefs across the world
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A common clownfish - Amphiprion percular - in an aquarium is photographed during a media preview of 'Coral Reef - Secret Cities of the Sea' exhibition at the Natural History museum in London, Wednesday, March, 25, 2015. The museum'€™s new show plunges into the underwater world, featuring a 'virtual dive' that provides a 180-degree view of five coral reefs controlled by a joystick, including one vista with a manta ray in Komodo Island, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
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They found that the coral larvae were trapped in their own skeletons by the compound; rendering them unable to drift amidst the sea currents and spread as they need to. Corals also suffered coral bleaching when exposed to the compound.

The levels of oxybenzone used by the scientists were comparable to those typically found in tourist-ridden waters.

Lead researcher Craig Downs said, "The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue."

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