Coral reefs, one of the most important elements in the marine ecosystem, is increasingly polluted by chemical hazards. The reason for the coral reef pollution may well be your chemical based, non-biodegradable sunscreen. Surprised? You might think that your tiny sunscreen wash-off into the ocean cannot harm marine life, but think again!

Recent reports say an estimated 5000 tonnes of sunscreen are washed off from people’s skin into water bodies during swimming and other underwater activities each year. Chemicals such as Octocrylene, Butylparaben, Octylmethoxycinnamate, and Benzophenone-3; present in non biodegradable sunscreen brands, accumulate in the oceans. These chemicals do not break down easily and are harmful to marine life.

One very specific consequence of these chemicals making their way into the oceans is coral reef pollution. The chemicals wake up the dormant viruses present around the corals. The virus then replicates rapidly killing the symbiotic algae, this causes the coral reefs to become bleached (whitening of the coral surface) as they get devoid of the green algae from their surface. Thus, corals become incapable of converting sunlight into chemical energy. This results in an imbalance of the overall food chain of the marine ecosystem. Reportedly, around 10% of world’s coral reefs are polluted and affected from the current rate of non-biodegradable sunscreen wash-off into oceans. The water around the corals exposed to these dangerous chemicals from sunscreen wash-off has 15 times more viruses than the water around the non-exposed corals.

Along with coral reef pollution, the chemicals Butylparaben and Benzophenone-3 present in non biodegradable sunscreen brands also cause risks of cancer, endocrine problems, skin disorders and allergies in humans.

So, to save yourself from sun’s harmful rays, now there is a better way. Choose biodegradable sunscreen brands which are plant and mineral based, rather than chemical-based. That way, you not only can keep your own health risks at bay, but can also save the environment. You can become a part of saving the increasing coral reef pollution. Look for biodegradable sunscreen brands containing Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, the non-toxic, environment friendly sun-block compounds.

Biodegradable sunscreen brands to choose from:

1. Reef Safe (Endorsed by American Lifeguard Association)
2. Caribbean Solution
3. Loving Naturals
4. Lavera
5. Aubrey Organics
6. Yaoh

By using these biodegradable sunscreen brands, you benefit:

1. By reducing risks of endocrine problems and cancer.
2. By reducing exposure to chemicals that could cause skin disorders and allergies.
3. By playing an active role in reducing coral reef pollution and protecting the environment from hazardous chemical accumulations.

The world's increasing pollution and destruction of natural resources can be reduced by increasing your overall awareness, and taking simple steps of action. Using biodegradable sunscreen brands is just one way you can help. Coral reef pollution is a very real threat that needs to be dealt with. Your choice to not use harmful chemicals is a precious way of saving the planet and its natural resources.