This June, many of the world’s top coral reef scientists met at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Hawaii to discuss the challenges facing coral reefs. Sunscreen and other personal care product ingredients were hot topics. Of particular concern to scientists was oxybenzone, a chemical used in sunscreens to protect our skin from damaging UV light. Increasing a coral’s susceptibility to bleaching
- Damaging coral DNA which interferes with reproduction
- Causing deformities and growth anomalies
- Disrupting a coral’s hormonal processes for growth and reproduction
Perhaps most alarming is that all of this can happen with very low doses of the chemical, only 62 parts per trillion (equivalent to one drop of water in 6.5 Olympic swimming pools)!
Are the above statements true? Can sunscreen worn by beachgoers really cause damage coral reefs? My skepticism is due to the fact that the amounts leached into the water would be extremely tiny and quickly diluted by the ocean, especially when compared to other sources of pollution.
For an additional source, see this page from the NOAA.