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Chemical Sunscreens Accumulating in the Mediterranean

by kelly / April, 13 2022 01:30

Photo of the Mediterranean Sea

In the last few years Hawaii and Thailand have banned the use and sale of some chemical sunscreens with a few other states and countries considering it as well. Could the Mediterranean region be next after a recent study was released?

Chemical Sunscreens Found in Mediterranean Sea Grass

The study found chemical sunscreens accumulating in Mediterranean seagrass. Specifically scientists discovered chemical sunscreen filters in the stems of Posidonia Oceanica - a seagrass species on the coast of Mallorca in the Mediterranean.

The scientists found accumulation of the following chemical sunscreens: oxybenzone, avobenzone 4-methyl, benzylidene camphor, benzophenone-4 and methylparaben.

Chemical Sunscreens Relation to Tourism & Recreation

Why were high concentrations found in this seagrass? Well, this area is a popular tourist and recreational destination.

According to Dr Silvia Díaz Cruz the co-author of the study also said:

“Since the Mediterranean Sea is shallow, small and very enclosed, concentrations of UV-absorbing chemicals can reach high [levels].”

Impact of Chemical Sunscreens on the Mediterranean Sea Grass

Right now the full impact of chemical UV filters on the seagrass is unknown. The scientists didn’t study the effect of the exposure on the seagrass, only the presence.

However co-author of the study Professor Nona Agawin did say:

“If we find that sunscreens affect the photosynthesis and productivity of seagrasses beyond accumulation, we will have a problem since these seagrasses play important ecological roles in the Mediterranean coasts…then we should better regulate and provide alternatives to protect the beach-goers and also the seagrasses”

So could countries around the Mediterranean introduce chemical sunscreen legislation similar to Hawaii and Thailand? We’ll have to wait and see.

Mineral ONLY Sunscreens

In the meantime if you’re worried about the marine environment and are concerned about using a chemical sunscreen – apply a mineral only sunscreen instead! A true mineral sunscreen only uses zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as its UV filter/active ingredient. Hey, we also happen to have a mineral only sunscreen here Smile.

For all the latest updates on chemical sunscreen bans check out our Suncare Smarts series.

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