Few of us question the need to protect human skin from the effects of solar radiation – and sunscreen products have a vital role to play.
However, environmental concerns have focused on the possible effects that UV absorbers may have on coral reefs. Healthy coral reefs are one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, but coral ecosystems around the world face serious threats from climate change, unsustainable fishing, land-based pollution, coastal development, disease and invasive species.
It is also suggested that some UV absorbers may cause coral bleaching by inhibiting photosynthesis and researchers are reviewing the environmental impacts of sunscreen ingredients as part of a National Academy of Sciences study expected to be completed this year.
The subject is a controversial one with many questioning whether laboratory studies are representative of the real world and disagreements about which ingredients may be the cause of the problem if it does exist.