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How some sunscreens damage coral reefs

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How some sunscreens damage coral reefs
SHANSCHE/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Sea anemones and coral turn a common sunscreen ingredient into a toxin activated by light.

Oxybenzone, a common chemical found in sunscreens, pose risks to coral reefs because corals and sea anemones can turn it into a deadly toxin, a study shows.

One common chemical in sunscreen can have devastating effects on coral reefs. Now, scientists know why.

Sea anemones, which are closely related to corals, and mushroom coral can turn oxybenzone — a chemical that protects people against ultraviolet light — into a deadly toxin that’s activated by light. The good news is that algae living alongside the creatures can soak up the toxin and blunt its damage, researchers report in the May 6 Science.

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