[Coral-List] Oxybenzone effects on coral

Koty Sharp kotysharp at gmail.com
Wed Feb 8 12:41:52 EST 2017

Hi all,

As Autumn described in her email, my lab ran experiments to assay the
potential for lethal and sublethal effects of sunscreens on Porites
astreoides larvae.  We exposed freshly released P. astreoides larvae to a
variety of sunscreens at a range of concentrations. The sunscreens from
Autumn's company, Stream2Sea, do not contain oxybenzone but instead have
physical sunblock from non-nano titanium dioxide.  Even at the highest
tested concentrations, her sunscreens resulted in no significant
pre-settlement larval mortality and no significant reduction in larval
settlement (attachment and metamorphosis to substrate). This is in contrast
to other commercially available brands (containing oxybenzone), which
caused significant inhibition of larval settlement, although they did not
cause any significant mortality before settlement.

These results are not currently published.  For reference, we used
established published protocols for larval collection and for larval
settlement assays (Sharp et al., 2015; Sneed et al., 2014 - full references
below).  I'd be happy to discuss this work in further detail with anyone
who is interested.  Christina, thank you for your efforts in Hawaii!

Koty Sharp

Sharp, KH, JM Sneed, Ritchie, KB, McDaniel, L, and VJ Paul. 2015. Induction
of Larval Settlement in the Reef Coral Porites astreoides by a Cultivated
Marine Roseobacter Strain. The Biological Bulletin 228: 98-107.

Sneed, JM, Sharp, KH, Ritchie KB, and VJ Paul.  2014.  The chemical cue
tetrabromopyrrole from a biofilm bacterium induces settlement of multiple
Caribbean corals.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281(1786). doi:

On Tue, Feb 7, 2017 at 1:38 PM, Autumn Blum <autumn at stream2sea.com> wrote:

> 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
> astreoides.
> 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.
> Consciously,
> Autumn Blum
> Formulator & CEO
> Stream2Sea
> 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
> Message-ID:
>         <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
> Mahalo,
> 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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Koty Sharp
Assistant Professor
Roger Williams University
1 Old Ferry Road
Marine & Natural Sciences Building
Bristol, RI 02809
401-254-3170 <(401)%20254-3170>
kotysharp at gmail.com

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