Coral trouble

May 26, 2008

Image from flickr by Ze Eduardo…’s

With Britain’s unreliable summer many of us are jet setting off towards sunnier climates. Our suitcases will be jam packed full of all the essentials, hat? Check, sunglasses? Check, towels? Check. However one of the main things we need whilst we laze in the sun is suntan lotion, were constantly being told to slap the stuff on and rightly so if were going to refrain from getting sun damaged skin. However yesterday a new research warned the Brit’s that suntan lotion can lead to killing off the beautiful corals off the sea.

Whilst we splash about happy as Larry in the sea without a care in the world the residues of our suntan lotions are bleaching corals which then leads to their death.

The study was conducted by the University of Pisa in Italy using controlled amounts of suntan lotion in the coral reef seas surrounding Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand and Egypt. They found that chemical compounds in the UV filters of suntan lotions, even in small quantities can be dangerous to the lives of coral reefs.

The research team tested different brands of suntan lotions, different protective factors and concentrations finding that they all caused significant, harmful bleaching to the corals. The researchers are therefore called upon making new regulations to be made to limit human contact with the reefs.

According to the researchers a 20 minute splash in the sea can wash off 25% of the chemicals in the suntan lotions. The corals are already under threat by global warming however it has been estimated that 10% of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by UV bleaching chemicals alone.

The corals produce coral mucous within 18 to 48 hours from exposure to even small doses of the dangerous UV chemicals. Research found that within 96 hours the corals are completely bleached.

The World Trade Organisation suggested that 10% of tourism head toward the tropics with an estimated 78 million tourist’s visiting the coral reefs each year. Up to an annual 6,000 tonnes of suntan lotion are consequently released in the reef areas seriously adding to the problem.

The full study has been published in the US journals Environmental Health Perspectives.


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