Effects of the sunscreen UV filter, benzophenone, on marine invertebrates

Project: Research project

Project Details


Benzophenone-type ultraviolet filters (BPs) are used in personnel care products, such as sunscreens, skin lotions and cosmetics, and in various consumer products, including plastic consumables, paints, textiles, insecticides and food packaging materials. They are found ubiquitously in the environment as a consequence of released from the skin during swimming and showering, as well as from the sewage after urine excretion. While benzophenone-3 (BP-3) is the most popular BP-type UV filter, BP-3 as well as benzophenone-1 and benzophenone-8 (BP-1 and BP-8) are often detected in seawater, marine fish and invertebrate species. For instance, high levels of BP-1, BP-3 and BP-8 were reported in seawater samples collected from Hong Kong. Other BP compounds have received less attention overall and the measured concentrations were minimal when compared to BP-1, BP-3 and BP-8.

BPs are potential genotoxicants, mutagens and endocrine disruptors. Exposure to these chemicals may pose a significant threat to marine biota. However, our existing knowledge on the biological effects of BPs are mostly restricted to studies on human, rodents and corals. Only a few studies have investigated the chronic effects of BPs on invertebrates other than corals. Exposure to BP-3 resulted in impairment of larval growth in aquatic midge and delays in first molting and pregnancy in daphnia. Moreover, exposure to a sunscreen containing BP-3, homosalate and preservatives led to development block in sea urchin larvae. Results of these few studies have raised concerns about the potential impacts of BPs on marine invertebrates.
This study aims to investigate the chronic effects of BP-1, BP-3 and BP-8 on growth, development and reproduction in marine invertebrates across three phyla, including the gastropod Crepidula onyx from Phylum Mollusca, the barnacle Balanus amphitrite from Arthropoda, and the tubeworm Hydroides elegans from Annelida. Important ecological endpoints and sensitive life stages which are affected by benzophenone compounds will be identified. From a management perspective, results of the proposed study can help us predict species survival and species composition of benthic invertebrate communities in response to the risk posed by these compounds. The ecotoxicological values of EC 50 , EC20 and EC 10 , which are needed for regulatory authorities to assess the environmental risks and formulate threshold or management-action values for the protection of marine ecosystems, will also be generated.
Effective start/end date1/01/2231/12/24


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