Several years ago, scientists raised the alarm regarding the harm to the corals caused by sunscreens.
Scientists are now trying to develop a new and improved generation of sunscreens that are “reef friendly.”
Researchers developed an experimental polymer. In their experiments on mice, their polymer appeared to provide greater protection against ultraviolet radiation than commercial products.
Lei Tao, a chemist at Tsinghua University and the senior author of the study, said in the press statement, “I was blown away by the beautiful coral, and ever since I learnt that sunscreen is one of the causes of coral bleaching, I kept thinking about ways to develop a coral-friendly sunscreen,”
“This is an initial exploration of a new strategy to design bio-friendly and coral-friendly polymeric ultraviolet filters.”
Researchers from Tsinghua University created safe and coral-friendly polymeric UV filters by combining the Biginelli reaction and free radical polymerization.
“This work presents an initial exploration of bio-friendly and coral-friendly polymeric UV filters via a simple multicomponent reaction,” the authors wrote in their paper.
Researchers generated ring-shaped molecules that not only block UV radiation but are also too big to penetrate our skin, coral, and algae.
While testing their formula on mice, they discovered that the experimental formula was much more effective at preventing UV-related skin burns than standard sunscreen products. Moreover, there was no evidence that the mice’s skin absorbed the polymer.
When this innovative formula was exposed to free-floating algae and coral, these appeared to be unaffected.