Sunscreen Chemicals Harmful to Fish and Discovered in Tap Water

New research confirms the danger sunscreen chemicals poses to marine life, and potentially to humans as these chemicals have been uncovered not only in ocean water near beaches, but also in tap water.

Sunscreen chemicals harm fish embryos, study shows



Recent sampling efforts off the coast of Shenzhen, China, revealed elevated levels of the filtering chemicals used in sunscreen. Lab tests have shown filtering chemicals can harm fish embryos. However, scientists have expressed doubt as to whether filtering chemicals can persist in great enough concentrations to impact animal or human health.

New study findings

In a series of new tests, scientists decided to look at whether myriad chemicals, at low concentrations, could combine to affect the health of fish embryos.  During the initial water sampling phase, scientists identified nine of 11 popular filtering chemicals in samples collected at Shenzhen’s public beaches and harbor. Surprisingly, researchers also found filtering chemicals in the city’s reservoir and tap water samples.

When scientists fed brine shrimp exposed to elevated levels of filtering chemicals to zebrafish, they found the zebrafish’s offspring developed a variety of abnormalities…Development abnormalities were most likely to occur after longer periods of exposure and at levels unlikely to occur in the environment.

The takeaway

However, the tests suggest different combinations of chemicals have the potential to have unpredictable impacts on animal health. To better understand the potential for harm, more testing is needed.



Journal reference: Li, A.J., et al. Joint Effects of Multiple UV Filters on Zebrafish Embryo Development, August 1, 2018. Environmental Science and Technology, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b02418