A chemical used to manufacture many soaps, shampoos and other products, is killing young coral reefs at concentrations commonly found in the environment.
Benzophenone-2 (BP-2), which is found in hundreds of personal care products, caused increased rates of coral death, DNA damage and bleaching in laboratory tests.
Benzophenone-2 (BP-2) is an additive to personal-care products and commercial solutions that protects against the damaging effects of ultraviolet light. The chemical is used to protect bath salts, body fragrances, lotions, shampoos, soaps and laundry detergents from ultraviolet light, which make products lose their colour.
The levels of BP-2 used in a new interational study — ranging from 24 parts per billion to 246 parts per million — are within what has been found in US wastewater effluent.
Once in the environment, BP-2 can quickly "kill juvenile corals at very low concentrations — parts per billion," the authors wrote.
What's worrying is that if this chemical harms young coral, we won't get coral recruitment around the world. This will create coral zombies — where's there's adults but not recruited young, so the reef will eventually go away, said Craig Downs, a researcher at Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia who led the study.
The results show that something humans use to protect their skin or toiletries can reach the sea from wastewater discharges, and shut down coral reproduction