Tourists leave more than 200 thousand tons of sunscreen seriously damaging the Mesoamerican Reef System.
Cancun, Quintana Roo, (August 26, 20221).- Every year, 229,076 tons of sunscreen end up on the beaches of Cancun and in the sea by the more than 16 million tourists who come to destinations in the Mexican Caribbean, concludes a study by the Yucatan Center for Scientific Research (CICY).
“The substances contained in sunscreens are highly dangerous, if they continue to reach aquatic systems they will destory the ecosystmes because they have endocrine and carcinogenic effects, and their lethality has been demonstrated in coral reefs and other marine organisms.”CICY
The study led by Diego Armando Casas Beltrán states that these products put the subsistence of the Mesoamerican Reef System at risk since half of its surface is located off the coast of the Mexican Caribbean.
According to the study, sunscreen is a mixture of organic and inorganic substances, such as glycerin, vitamins, silicone, benzotriazole derivatives, and nylon-derived compounds, which were designed to protect the skin from solar radiation.
“The component most likely to be present in water, as it is essential for solar filter mixtures, is oxybenzone,” he adds.
The group of scientists refers that on the beaches of Cancun and Quintana Roo there are no regulations to restrict the use of these products, as is the case in places like Hawaii, for example.
“Currently, the regulation and management of sunscreen use are inconsistent with most policies and legislation focused on marine protected areas and inland aquatic ecosystems.”CICY
These products also pollute the freshwater from which the population is supplied, as it points out that groundwater is also used for recreational purposes, such as swimming in cenotes.
“The hydrogeological characteristics of karst systems lead to high infiltration and permeability, which facilitates the rapid transport of pollutants in underground flows, affecting the water table and ultimately, the coral reefs.”
It is common for tourists to be invited to choose ecologically friendly sun protection options, but scientists have concluded that those products are also harmful to the environment.
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