Stop Producing Sunscreen that Kills Coral Reefs

Target: Israel Makov, Chairman of Sun Pharmaceuticals Corp.

Goal: Stop using oxybenzone and other known harmful chemicals in sunscreen.

Sunscreen is an incredibly important product, protecting skin from harmful UV rays and preventing sunburn and skin cancer. However, over the past decade, studies have discovered negative side effects of excessive sunscreen use. Commonly used chemicals have been found to penetrate skin and enter the bloodstream, causing unknown damage. Further, these chemicals irreversibly destroy coral reefs when the sunscreen applied by beachgoers is washed into the ocean. This adds up to an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen being poured on coral reefs each year. With so many chemicals being dumped into the oceans, it’s no wonder that marine ecosystems are beginning to suffer.

Sun Pharmaceuticals owns Coppertone and Banana Boat, two of the largest sunscreen brands in the world. Both of these product lines contain oxybenzone, a known hormone disruptor with questionable health effects for humans and the environment. Studies performed in Hawaii, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, and several other sites all discovered highly elevated levels of oxybenzone and other chemicals commonly found in sunscreen.

A recent report from labs in Virginia and Italy found that in the presence of oxybenzone, young coral polyps become trapped in their own skeletons, unable to move and recolonize reefs. Oxybenzone also leaches nutrients from adult coral and destroys the algae that live in and support the coral. This additional source of pollution further stresses out coral polyps and their algae symbionts. When the coral become overstressed due to warming waters and pollution, the algae either perish or are ejected from the coral, leaving the coral structures bleached and dying.

Many of the world’s most beautiful and diverse coral reefs are considered prime diving and vacation spots, increasing their exposure to high levels of oxybenzone. An estimated 25 percent of all ocean species make their homes in coral reefs, and as these reefs are bleached, they are left without protection or food sources. The whole ecosystem is destroyed.

Sign the petition below to urge Sun Pharmaceuticals to stop using oxybenzone and other toxic chemicals in its sunscreen products. Instead, encourage the use of natural compounds such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that have no harmful effects on delicate coral reefs.


Dear Mr. Makov,

Chemicals in Sun Pharmaceuticals’ sunscreen brands have been found to have devastating effects of marine ecosystems. These chemicals enter the ocean directly when people apply sunscreen at the beach and indirectly, as the sunscreen is washed down the drain. Oxybenzone is particularly toxic, and has been found to contribute to coral bleaching, reducing vibrant reefs to bleak wastelands. Coral reefs support millions through the tourism and fishing industries, and they desperately need protection, not further stress and pollution.

Some particularly at-risk regions have already begun recommending that beach-goers use “reef friendly” sunscreen products that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide instead of oxybenzone. Coppertone and Banana Boat, Sun Pharmaceutical’s largest sunscreen brands, must switch to these nontoxic ingredients for the good of both consumers and the environment.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Samuel Blanning

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  1. ban the sunscreen that is bad for the reef.

  2. simon rickman says:

    as if these morons give a shit about what we think or what the planet needs!

  3. Globally, it becomes evident that governments do not care. Their main concern lies in pleasing their $upportive$. Thus it is up to the public to step up with demanding a future for our planet, and so with generations to come. We can no longer rely on smiling faces and huge promises during elections, clearly, it proofed wrong so far! Time to wake up and remove our heads from that “sun-less” place!

  4. Denise Baudin says:

    Israel Makov, Chairman of Sun Pharmaceuticals Corp: How can a person in your position and an educated person (MS 1965, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; BS 1963, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) allow the use of oxybenzone and other known harmful chemicals in sunscreen. One would think that with your knowledge of pharmaceutical products, you would know that sunscreen made with harmful chemical products penetrate skin and enter the bloodstream, causing unknown damage. Further, these chemicals irreversibly DESTROY coral reefs.
    Stop using oxybenzone and other known harmful chemicals in sunscreen.

    • Rosslyn Osborne says:

      It shocks me as well, Denis. The more educated they are the less concerned they seem to be about human and animal health, for some reason. Perhaps they think they are above the laws of nature and just go for the easy way to make money. Shame.

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