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Sunscreen Is Killing The Worlds Coral Reefs

Coral reefs around the world are dying. A new study believes the cause to be due to the chemicals in Sunscreen.

Until recently it was thought that the coral reefs were dying due to some aspect of global warming. However a study by Marche Polytechnic University in Italy has found that ingredients that are usually found in sunscreen can awaken dormant viruses in the algae that live inside reef-building coral species.

It was revealed that four of the chemicals, Benzophenone, a Paraben preservative, Cinnamate and a Camphor derivative, all used in sunscreen to either act as a preservative or as UV filters caused the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations.

These chemicals seem to trigger a reaction that causes rampant reproduction in the viruses causing their algae hosts (zooxanthellae) to explode.

This allows the virus to spread into the surrounding waters. This in turn infects the neighbouring coral growth.

The Zooxanthellae provide the coral with food energy through photosynthesis and this is what gives the coral its vibrant colours. Without them the coral will bleach and die. This will then leave only the skeleton of the coral.

Each year between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen is washed off swimmers. In the oceans of the world this puts 10% of coral reefs at risk of sun screen induced bleaching and of course ultimately the death of that coral reef.

So many people these days are conscious of the environment and the ways in which man is damaging the planet. This is just one more example of the chemicals we use in every day life affecting either us or the planet.

Of course for years we have been told that the suns rays are harmful and that we must continually coat ourselves and our children in sunscreen to help to prevent skin cancer. This is probably true but we are saving ourselves in a way that is killing off another species on this planet.

Until someone comes up with a better solution I would recommend limiting sun bathing, especially for children. When at the beach a sun hat, loose cotton clothes and the use of the showers provided at many pools and beaches would help to limit the sunscreen that is getting into the oceans.

In the meantime let us hope that our scientists and researchers are aware of this new problem and take steps to remedy the situation. It is worrying that the chemicals have awoken a once dormant virus in the coral. What might be the long term effects on ourselves.

Sunny Jones is the owner and writer of the popular online travel guide and community, Travel Advice Pages, which dispenses invaluable travel advice for worldwide travelers.

Source: www.ezinearticles.com