Require Use of Biodegradable Sunscreen in Mexico to Protect Fragile Coral Reefs

Target: President of Mexico Felipe Calderón

Goal: Require use of biodegradable sunscreen when entering marine areas in Mexico to protect fragile coral reefs.

Coral reefs are biologically and economically vital and should be protected. The coastlines of Mexico are home to several different reef systems.  These reef systems are under threat from climate change, pollution, overfishing, and sunscreen. Sunscreen contains ingredients that are toxic to coral reefs. Coral reefs are exposed to these toxins when people wearing sunscreen enter the water in close proximity to the reef systems. Thousands of tourists explore the coral reefs off the shores of Mexico each year and thus expose them to the toxins in the sunscreen they wear. Many marine parks in Mexico have already adopted a requirement that biodegradable sunscreen be used by people visiting the coral reefs, but the requirement is not nationwide. A nationwide requirement that people use biodegradable sunscreen when entering coastal waters is vital to help preserve fragile coral reef systems.

Coral reefs provide many benefits to people. They protect the coastline from erosion and storms, provide income, and are a source of new medicine. People derive income from coral reefs through fishing and tourism. In Cozumel, Mexico, over 2,000 people visit coral reefs every day. Tourism is a major industry in Mexico with over 20 million visitors in 2010. Protection of coral reefs is necessary to preserve all of the benefits people derive from them.

A recent study examined the relationship between sunscreen and coral reefs. The study determined that ingredients in sunscreen cause dormant viruses to replicate and kill algae on coral reefs. Coral reefs depend on the algae to manufacture food and thus cannot survive without it. It is estimated that approximately 10% of coral reefs worldwide are threatened by sunscreen. Fortunately, biodegradable sunscreen does not have ingredients that are harmful to coral reefs. Requiring their use in Mexico would help protect coral reef systems.

By signing the petition below, you will help urge Mexico to institute a requirement that only biodegradable sunscreen be used in coastal areas to protect coral reefs.


Dear President Felipe Calderón,

Coral reefs are one of Mexico’s most valuable natural resources. Over twenty million tourists went to Mexico in 2010 and many of them visited the coral reefs off of Mexico’s coastline. Unfortunately, coral reefs are sensitive and vulnerable to damage. Climate change, pollution, and overfishing all threaten the existence of coral reefs. In addition to these threats, ingredients in sunscreen have been found to be toxic to coral reefs. Four to six thousand tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers and enter the ocean worldwide each year. Many communities in Mexico have already recognized the threat that sunscreen poses to coral reefs and require that only biodegradable sunscreen be used in marine areas. However, to protect all of the coral reefs in Mexico the requirement should be extended nationwide.

I urge you to protect the coral reefs in Mexico by requiring that only biodegradable sunscreen be used in coastal areas.


[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. Jay Lustgarten says:

    Perhaps it’s entirely new to consider biodegradeable sunblock but we don’t have the luxury of time to hesitate. Coral reefs are among the most vulnerable on our planet and need protection now. We’ve got to change the dialogue today. Thanks for getting us started.

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