Scientists have found that chemicals often found in sunscreens are building up in the stems of Mediterranean seagrass.
The researchers found that the stems of Posidonia oceanica are slowly building up chemicals that are used as UV filters in a wide range of sunscreen products. The researchers believe this is a result of the recreational use of sunscreen as well as from waste discharges into the sea.
The exact impact of the chemicals on the seagrass is unknown, and further research is needed. However, scientists found different levels of various sunscreen components in the seagrass, including:
- Avobenzone 4-methyl
- Benzylidene camphor
- Methyl parabens.
The latest study was published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, and according to co-author Dr. Silvia Díaz Cruz:
“This marine enclave is impacted by port activities, water discharge and tourism. Since the Mediterranean Sea is shallow, small and very enclosed, concentrations of UV-absorbing chemicals can reach high [levels].”
While Nona Agawin, the study’s co-author, commented:
“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. If we find which sunscreen components are harmful for seagrasses, then we should better regulate and provide alternatives to protect the beach-goers and also the seagrasses.”