The Invisible Threat – How Cosmetics Impact Coral Reefs
Coral reefs, often called the “rainforests of the sea”, are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. However, they are threatened by various sources, including climate change, and pollution. One less known but significant threat comes from an unexpected source: cosmetics. Many cosmetic products, including sunscreens, contain chemicals that can harm coral reefs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, once common ingredients in sunscreens, are particularly damaging. These chemicals can cause coral bleaching, a process where corals expel the algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. Bleached corals are under more stress and are more likely to die. In 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens using oxybenzone and octinoxate, citing their potential damage to coral reefs. The policy went into effect in January of this year, and Key West, Aruba, Palau, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several other tourist destinations have followed suit.
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