01 June, 2008

Sunblock may be Good for You.... Not for the Reefs!

I was shocked this morning when I learnt that sunscreen lotions used by swimmers around the world are contributing to the phenomenon known as coral bleaching, threatening the coral and the teeming marine life that depends upon it.

A new study sponsored by the European Commission found that even tiny amounts of cream-based UV filters used to protect the skin from the sun's rays caused bleaching of coral reefs.

The chemical compounds join climate change, industrial pollution and high UV radiation due to the "ozone hole" as a leading threat to coral reefs. An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes of sunscreen are released annually in waters around coral reefs, with 25 per cent of the sunscreen ingredients on skin released into water over the course of a 20-minute swim.

Perhaps it is time to invest in more UV blocking garments specifically designed for water activities which also look rather cool instead of covering ourselves in sunscreen lotion?

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