A painful sunburn can ruin a vacation, and too much sun can also lead to more serious problems like premature skin aging and melanoma. Therefore, manufacturers have added ultraviolet (UV) filters to many personal care products, including sunscreens, moisturizers and makeup.
Scientists have detected these substances in the environment, but most studies have concluded that individual sunscreen chemicals are not present at high-enough levels to harm people or animals. Kelvin Sze-Yin Leung wondered if combinations of UV filters may be more harmful than individual compounds, and whether these chemicals could have long-term effects that previous studies hadn’t considered. Leung and his team began by analyzing the levels of nine common UV filters in surface waters of Shenzhen, China — a rapidly growing city with more than 20 popular recreational beaches.
They found seven of the nine chemicals in Shenzhen waters, including public beaches, a harbor and, surprisingly, a reservoir and tap water.
Next, the researchers moved to the lab where they fed zebrafish, a common model organism, brine shrimp that had been exposed to three of the most prevalent chemicals, alone or in mixtures. Although the adult fish had no visible problems, their […]