Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Is suncream bad for coral reefs? © Getty Images

Is sunscreen bad for coral reefs?

Published: 20th May, 2022 at 11:00
Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Lathering up with sunscreen before enjoying a cooling dip can lead to harmful chemicals getting washed out to sea.

Over the last decade, scientific studies have shed light on the toxic effects that many widely-used sunscreen ingredients can have on coral reefs. To date, this research has focused mostly on how chemical UV filters, such as oxybenzone, can lead to coral bleaching and disrupt coral reproduction. As a result, some countries have banned these ingredients. But scientists caution that there is still a lot we don’t know.


Many products using mineral rather than chemical filters are now marketed as ‘reef-friendly’, but these alternative ingredients haven’t undergone proper scrutiny, and the wider impacts of sunscreen components on marine and freshwater environments are still largely unknown.

Read more:

Asked by: Chris Langham, Harrow

To submit your questions email us at (don't forget to include your name and location)


Sponsored content