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Globally corals are in serious decline with major threats from increasing temperatures due to climate change and disease. New threats from chemical contaminants in seawater are an emerging area of concern, particularly near coral reef areas with high-density population, tourism, or recreational activities.
The detection of sunscreen active ingredients (i.e., UV-filters) in the aquatic environment has raised concerns over potential adverse impacts on coral reefs. However, there is very limited scientific data on their environmental concentrations in seawater near coral reefs in Hawaii. To help address these data deficiencies, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and University of Maryland, Baltimore County researchers measured the concentration of 13 UV filters, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, in seawater, sediment, and coral tissues. Other organic chemicals (e.g., sucralose and surfactants, synthetic hormones and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]) were also analyzed in the study.
Study - Body - Data - Risk - Chemicals
"Our study vastly expands the current body of scientific data needed to assess the environmental risk of these chemicals to corals. This data can be used in conjunction with future toxicological studies to estimate environmental risk to corals and other species," said study lead Carys Mitchelmore of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Her research expertise focuses on understanding how contaminants and other environmental stressors interact with and impact organisms, especially sensitive species like corals.
Study locations were chosen to represent different hypothesized loadings of UV-filters from municipal, recreational, and tourism activities, and included the tourist hot-spot Waikiki Beach and Kaneohe Bay, a popular location for water-based recreational activities. The study is the first to present on the concentration of UV-filters in coral tissue from the U.S.A. and reports the presence of at least 8 different UV-filters in coastal waters, sediment, and coral tissue from Hawaii.
Study - Parts - Concentrations - Oxybenzone - Sites
The study found low, parts per trillion, seawater concentrations of oxybenzone at the 19 sites studied,...
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