Sunscreen filters are accumulating in Mediterranean seagrass

By Julia Wray 13-Apr-2022

Study finds various sunscreen components in the stems of Mallorca’s Posidonia oceanica

<i>Mediterranean seagrass was tested from several sites in Mallorca (pictured)</i>

Mediterranean seagrass was tested from several sites in Mallorca (pictured)

Sunscreen materials are accumulating in Mediterranean seagrass in the tourism-heavy Mallorca region, a study has found.

High concentrations of UV filters were found in Posidonia oceanica plant materials taken from three sites in Mallorca: near the port of the capital Palma, and at two sampling points near the port of Alucida and a pristine site in Ses Salines.

Wastewater treatment discharges and high tourism levels in peak summer months are a feature of both the Palma and Alucida sites.

The P. oceanica rhizome segments analysed were discovered to have internally accumulated the organic UV filters oxybenzone, avobenzone 4-methyl, benzylidene camphor and benzophenone-4, as well as methyl parabens.

The study’s authors, who published their findings in Marine Pollution Bulletin under the title 'Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica accumulates sunscreen UV filters', said it remains to be investigated experimentally whether these compounds have negative effects on the plant in the same way reported for phytoplankton, or whether it just accumulated in the tissues.

Some organic UV filters, including oxybenzone, have been linked to coral bleaching.

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Bleaching happens when coral become stressed and expel the algae living inside them, providing the coral with its colour and food source.

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