Sunscreen exposed?

Shedding light:A study by the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has shown that an extensive amount of sunscreen chemicals in seawater that could pose a risk to human health. The study, a world-first in identifying the harm that can be caused by a combination of polluting chemicals in sunscreen, has found the chemicals can cause abnormalities in zebrafish embryo. As the genetic structure of zebrafish (inpicture) resembles that of humans, the results imply that these contaminants could pose a risk to humans. The study has shown that these contaminants are commonly found in the coastal waters off Hong Kong. The team, led by Dr Kelvin Leung Sze-yin, Associate Professor of the Department of Chemistry of HKBU, collected seawater samples from 30 locations. It also collected fish, shrimps, mussels and other wild organisms from seven local aquaculture farms around Hong Kong. The team detected the presence of UV filters (benzophenone-3 or BP-3; ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate or EHMC and octocrylene or OC) in concentrations ranging from 3.1 to 51.3 nanograms in each gram of the samples. The findings indicated that UV filters that accumulated in marine life could possibly pass up the food chain to humans and affect our health. Organic or chemical UV filters that can absorb or block UV radiation, are extensively applied in personal care products including sunscreens. Besides, UV filters are also widely found in textiles, plastics and rubber as protection against photo-degradation. The findings have been published in the academic scientific journal, Environmental Science & Technology.

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