Study on Coral-Harming Chemical Spurs Corrective Action

The Takeaway: Several states are looking at limiting sunscreen pollution, thanks to support from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and others.

A study from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and a team of international scientists showed that oxybenzone, a common chemical found in over 3500 sunscreen products, greatly increases the vulnerability of juvenile corals to bleaching, DNA damage, abnormal skeleton growth, and gross deformities.

In response, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and World Parks Congress developed a code of conduct for scientists to recognize the problem, lessen product use, and advocate substituting products with less harmful effects.

In addition, Haereticus Environmental Laboratory has established certification programs for personal care products and is working with the State of Hawaii and University of Hawaii on a social campaign to increase awareness. The dive industry and many outrigger resorts—plus the Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, and other nonprofits—are urging state or federal authorities to take action on sunscreen pollution in places such as California, Colorado, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And thirteen United Nations World Heritage sites have banned sunscreen use onsite. (2017)

More Information:

Partners: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Haereticus Environmental Laboratory; National Aquarium – Baltimore; NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, Hollings Marine Laboratory, and Center for Coastal Environmental Health; Tel Aviv University; University of Central Florida; University of Hawaii