[Coral-List] Oxybenzone effects on coral

Christina Comfort ccomfort at hawaii.edu
Fri Feb 3 15:17:59 EST 2017

Aloha Coral Listers,
Thanks Gene for bringing up the oxybenzone concerns.
Here in Hawaii, we're currently trying to move a bill forward that would
ban oxybenzone sales in the state (though not outright prohibit the use -
would be next to impossible to enforce, especially with tourists coming in
from all over the world). Of course, oxybenzone isn't the biggest or most
dire threat to coral reefs, but decreasing oxybenzone exposure - especially
in tourist-frequented areas with high sunscreen use - could improve coral
resiliency in the face of a multitude of stressors.

I testified on this bill on Tuesday at the state legislature (in support)
and it passed the first committee.The work that is primarily being
referenced in all the support testimony is the study by Craig Downs. Other
than that, I found a study that showed coral bleaching induced by low
concentrations of oxybenzone and other sunscreen chemicals (Danovaro et al.
2008), and a handful of studies that show some anti-androgenic effects of
oxybenzone in fish.

We are working on strengthening our testimony for the next round, and I'm
wondering if anyone else on the coral listserv is looking at impacts of
sunscreen on corals? Particularly oxybenzone, although I'm curious about
any sunscreen related research. Zinc oxide is being proposed as the primary
alternative, and is also healthier for humans. I haven't seen much about
zinc oxide toxicity in corals, does anyone know more about that?

I'm a coastal oceanographer and I work in coral reef ecosystems, but I'm
not an expert on toxicity.  I'm working with our local Surfrider chapter to
provide sample testimony for folks to work off of, and would like it to be
as comprehensive as possible!

Thanks for any input you might have!
Please reply to ccomfort at hawaii.edu

Christina Comfort
Oceanographic Research Specialist
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Danovaro, Roberto, et al. "Sunscreens cause coral bleaching by promoting
viral infections." *Environmental health perspectives* 116.4 (2008): 441.

Downs, Craig A., et al. "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 US Virgin
Islands." *Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology* 70.2
(2016): 265-288.

Blüthgen, Nancy, Sara Zucchi, and Karl Fent. "Effects of the UV filter
benzophenone-3 (oxybenzone) at low concentrations in zebrafish (Danio
rerio)." *Toxicology and applied pharmacology* 263.2 (2012): 184-194.

> Message: 1
> Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2017 11:53:09 -0500
> From: Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Oxybenzone effects on coral
> To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Message-ID: <8fc0ced1-9553-7c79-72af-19431976caba at mail.usf.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed
> Coral list readers are probably aware of the current concern over the
> negative effects of Oxybenzone and other chemicals found in most
> sunscreens have on corals. Here is video (provided by Craig Downs) of a
> recent hearing in Hawaii where there is now a Bill to ban use of
> sunscreens containing these chemicals.
>      Oxybenzone is most likely to have negative effects in the Florida
> Keys not only from swimmers but from household drains.  It should be
> noted that household and hotel sewage in the Florida Keys (both from
> septic tanks and other sewage systems) goes into the shallow ground
> water. Previous studies demonstrate that shallow ground water moves
> offshore toward areas of coral growth. Oxybenzone is also found in
> shampoo, lip balm, and other cosmetics that ultimately go down the
> drain.  Gene https://www.facebook.com/civilbeat/videos/1431047140261343/
> -- http://www.civilbeat.org/2017/01/bill-banning-many-
> sunscreen-products-advances-in-house/
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> College of Marine Science Room 221A
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158
> ---------------------------------- -----------------------------------

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