Interpreting Risk from Sunscreens in the Marine Environment


Recent and pending bans in specific jurisdictions of some organic ultraviolet (UV) filters have resulted in significant concern and controversy over the potential impacts of these contaminants in the marine environment. Organic UV filters have been quantified in the aquatic environment as contaminants in water, sediments, and the tissues of aquatic organisms. The limited available laboratory studies on the toxicity of UV filters to keystone marine species such as reef-building corals describe a wide variety of impacts, from significant acute effects to no observed effects. However, interpretation of results is complicated by differences in methodology, and exposures to single agents in vitro may not reflect the effects of longer exposure to finished sunscreens containing UV filters in combination with numerous other chemicals. Relatively short-term observations of laboratory effects thus may not translate to real-life field conditions, where organisms may be subject to the effects of long-term chronic exposure to UV filters as well as other environmental contaminants and stressors. The lack of current understanding of the full impacts of UV filters, both in the laboratory and in the environment, represents a significant challenge in interpreting the environmental risk associated with the widespread use of sunscreens.

Authors: Abigail Renegar, Denis K Dudley
; Full Source: Current problems in dermatology 2021;55:259-265. doi: 10.1159/000517636.