Common chemicals used in thousands of products to protect against harmful effects of ultraviolet light threaten corals and other marine life.
Healthy coral reefs are one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. They provide billions of dollars in economic and environmental services, such as food, coastal protection, and tourism. However, coral ecosystems around the world face serious threats from a number of sources, including climate change, unsustainable fishing, land-based pollution, coastal development, disease, and invasive species.
Scientists have also discovered that some of the chemicals found in sunscreen and other personal health products threaten the health of coral reefs. How these, and other compounds, affect reef ecosystems remains an active area of research. Researchers are reviewing the environmental impacts of sunscreen ingredients as part of a National Academy of Sciences study expected to be completed in 2021. NOAA will review this study when it is available and update the information presented in this article as warranted.