Sunscreen chemical kills corals—now scientists know why

Read the full story from Chemical & Engineering News.

Oxybenzone, a common active ingredient in sunscreens, is known to damage coral reefs, and some countries and US states have banned swimmers from using sunscreens that contain it. Now a group of scientists led by William Mitch at Stanford University has elucidated the mechanism at work. Corals metabolize oxybenzone to generate a compound that’s toxic to the organisms under sunshine (Science 2022, DOI: 10.1126/science.abn2600). The researchers also found that bleached coral are more vulnerable to the sunscreen chemical.

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