[Coral-List] Oxybenzone effects on coral

Autumn Blum autumn at stream2sea.com
Tue Feb 7 13:38:45 EST 2017

Aloha Christina,

Thank you for your efforts before the Hawaiian legislature!  I'm a cosmetic
chemist and recently launched Stream2Sea, a sunscreen and bodycare product
line formulated to be safe for us and our waters.  I consciously formulated
without using ingredients with known or suspected aquatic toxicity.  Before
putting Stream2Sea on the market, I contracted with Eckerd College to
perform various toxicity trials from C.Elegans and fish to coral larvae.
Dr. Koty Sharp found that our non-nano Titanium dioxide formulas were not
toxic nor did they inhibit settlement of the Caribbean coral Porites

Testing finished products was more difficult than anticipated.  Sunscreen
formulas can be polymer based which suspend the active ingredients at the
surface rather than dispersing in the water, and water in oil emulsions, or
purely oil based formulas do not disperse well either.  As Dr. Downs has
discussed in his reports, active ingredients tend to adhere to the side
walls of glass and plastic tanks, reducing the available concentration of
actives in the testing water as well.  

As a side note, the aquatic toxicity trials were also very interesting.  We
compared our formulas to several chemical based sunscreens.  I was surprised
to learn that the oxybenzone containing sunscreens did not cause significant
mortality of the fish tested, but DID significantly affect their swimming
and feeding behavior.  According to one of the researchers 'the fish aren't
dead, but they are hovering at the bottom, twitching and completely
disinterested in food.  Not happy fish.' I would love to see long term and
reproductive studies...

There is much more research to do, but I know it is possible to formulate
good products without these harmful chemicals.  One rebuttal from the
chemical industry has been that zinc and titanium have also been shown
harmful, but those have all been with nano particles.  

I'm not a coral researcher, but am willing to share our work and collaborate
with others to help improve all our knowledge.  If anyone has questions,
feel free to contact me directly.


Autumn Blum
Formulator & CEO
Wauchula, FL USA
Tel. 863 473 4223
autumn at stream2sea.com www.stream2sea.com 


Message: 2
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2017 10:17:59 -1000
From: Christina Comfort <ccomfort at hawaii.edu>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Oxybenzone effects on coral
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
	<CABtKkOKB2Ln1xH-FFczzFmvL7N0mWkkju7wLECKkFH=tS=LmjQ at mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

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.

Bl?thgen, 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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