Sun lotions help to kill coral reefs

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Tourists heading to the tropics were warned yesterday that their suntan lotion can kill off one of the main attractions of their holiday – the colourful corals that thrive in warmer waters.

Residues from sunscreens that wash off in the sea were shown by researchers to cause coral bleaching, a condition that leads to the death of the organism and the collapse of delicate ocean eco-systems.

Chemical compounds that make up the ultra-violet (UV) filters in sunscreens, which are essential to protect the skin against burning, were shown to be harmful to coral reefs, even in small quantities.

The researchers called for regulations to limit human contact with reefs where the coral was already suffering from other environmental threats such as rising sea temperatures.