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A ban on sunscreen products with chemicals has been imposed by The United States Virgin Islands(USVI) to protect the coral reefs and marine life from the harmful effects of these chemicals.
Sunscreen products contain ‘O’ chemicals such as Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, and Octinoxate which harm the coral reefs that protect the virgin island shoreline.
The ban also aims at protecting the health, environment, and livelihood of the citizens in the region.
About Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are an underwater ecosystem composed of the skeletons of the colonial marine invertebrates called corals.
Reefs are composed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate.
There are generally 2 species of corals:
- Hard corals or hermatypic– They make use of calcium carbonate from seawater to build reefs.
- Soft corals– These are flexible organisms and are not involved in building reefs.
Different types of coral reefs
- Fringing Reefs
- Patch Reefs
- Barrier Reefs
Coral reefs are found all over the world’s ocean and occupy only 0.1% of the area of the ocean.
The world’s largest coral reef is the Australia great barrier reef.
Coral reefs are generally found in the clear, shallow waters of the tropics and subtropics.
Threats To Coral Reefs
- Climate changes caused by global warming have increased the water temperature which poses a threat to corals as they cannot survive in such an environment.
- Overfishing affects the ecological balance and disturbs the food chain.
- Uncontrolled development activities near coastal regions have caused significant damage.
- Rise in pollution level due to dumping industrial waste, plastics, agrochemicals, etc into seawater causes threats to coral reefs.
- Coral mining is another threat to coral reefs as under this live corals are removed from reefs to use them as bricks, road fill, or cement for building.