[Coral-List] New Scientific Study Released on toxic effects of a common sunscreen chemical on juvenile coral

Greg Challenger GChallenger at polarisappliedsciences.com
Wed Oct 21 11:46:25 EDT 2015

Have you measured concentrations in the environment to determine if the lab toxicological studies are representative? 

Sent from my iPhone

> On Oct 21, 2015, at 8:25 AM, "Cheryl Woodley - NOAA Federal" <cheryl.woodley at noaa.gov> wrote:
> Hi Coral-Listers
> I'd like to bring to your attention a new study published yesterday in the
> journal *Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology* showing
> that a chemical widely used in personal care products such as sunscreen,
> poses an ecological threat to corals and coral reefs and threatens their
> existence.
> Oxybenzone (also known as BP-3; Benzophenone-3) is found in over 3,500
> sunscreen products worldwide, and pollutes coral reefs from swimmers
> wearing sunscreens and through wastewater discharges from municipal sewage
> outfalls and from coastal septic systems.  Between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of
> sunscreen lotion are emitted into coral reef areas each year, much of which
> contains between one and 10% oxybenzone. The authors estimate that this
> puts at least 10% of global reefs at risk of high exposure, based on reef
> distribution in coastal tourist areas.
> Toxicopathological effects of the sunscreen UV filter, oxybenzone on coral
> planulae demonstrates that exposure of coral planulae (baby coral) to
> oxybenzone, produces gross morphological deformities, damages their DNA,
> and, most alarmingly, acts as an endocrine disruptor. The latter causes the
> coral to encase itself in its own skeleton leading to death.
> These effects were observed as low as 62 parts per trillion, the equivalent
> to a drop of water in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools
> Measurements of oxybenzone in seawater within coral reefs in Hawaii and the
> U.S. Virgin Islands found concentrations ranging from 800 parts per
> trillion to 1.4 parts per million.  This is over 12 times higher than the
> concentrations necessary to impact on coral.
> *Toxicopathological effects of the sunscreen UV filter, oxybenzone
> (benzophenone-3), on coral planulae and cultured primary cells and its
> environmental contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands*
> C.A. Downs1, Esti Kramarsky-Winter2,3, Roee Segal2, John Fauth4, Sean
> Knutson5, Omri Bronstein2, Frederic R. Ciner1, Rina Jeger 3, Yona
> Lichtenfeld 6, Cheryl M. Woodley7,8, Paul Pennington8, Kelli Cadenas9,
> Arial Kushmaro3, Yossi Loya2
> 1Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, Virginia, US
> 2Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv,
> Israel
> 3Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering
> and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, Ben-Gurion
> University of the Negev, Israel
> 4Department of Biology, University of Central Florida, Florida, US
> 5Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii, Honolulu US
> 6Department of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
> 7Hollings Marine Laboratory, US National Oceanic & Atmospheric
> Administration, Charleston, US
> 8Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, US
> National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Charleston, US
> 9National Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland US
> *Corresponding author: C. A. Downs cadowns at haereticus-lab.org
> <cadowns at haereticus-lab.org>*
> Benzophenone-3 (BP-3; oxybenzone) is an ingredient in sunscreen lotions
> and personal-care products that protects against the damaging effects of
> ultraviolet light. Oxybenzone is an emerging contaminant of concern in
> marine environments; produced by swimmers and municipal, residential, and
> boat/ship wastewater discharges. We examined the effects of oxybenzone on
> the larval form (planula) of the coral Stylophora pistillata, as well as
> its toxicity in vitro to coral cells from this and six other coral species.
> Oxybenzone is a photo-toxicant; adverse effects are exacerbated in the
> light. Whether in darkness or light, oxybenzone transformed planulae from a
> motile state to a deformed, sessile condition. Planulae exhibited an
> increasing rate of coral bleaching in response to increasing concentrations
> of oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a genotoxicant to corals, exhibiting a
> positive relationship between DNA-AP lesions and increasing oxybenzone
> concentrations. Oxybenzone is a skeletal endocrine disruptor; it induced
> ossification of the planula, encasing the entire planula in its own
> skeleton. The LC50 of planulae exposed to oxybenzone in the light for an 8
> and 24 hour exposure was 3.1 mg/L and 139 μg/L, respectively. The LC50s for
> oxybenzone in darkness for the same time points were 16.8 mg/L and 779
> μg/L. Deformity EC20 levels (24 hours) of planulae exposed to oxybenzone
> were 6.5 μg/L in the light and 10 μg/L in darkness. Coral cell LC50s (4
> hours, in the light) for 7 different coral species ranges from 8 μg/L to
> 340 μg/L, while LC20s (4 hours, in the light) for the same species ranges
> from 0.062 μg/L to 8 μg/L. Environmental contamination of oxybenzone in the
> U.S. Virgin Islands ranged from 75 μg/L to 1.4 mg/L, while Hawaiian sites
> were contaminated between 0.8 μg/L and 19.2 μg/L. Oxybenzone poses a hazard
> to coral reef conservation, and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to
> climate change.
> Here is the link to the article:
> http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7
> -- 
> Cheryl M. Woodley, Ph.D.
> Coral Health and Disease Program
> Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research
> Hollings Marine Laboratory
> 331 Fort Johnson Rd
> Charleston, SC 29412
> 843.762.8862 Phone
> 843.762.8737 Fax
> cheryl.woodley at noaa.gov
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