Chemicals used in sunscreen for blocking out the Sun’s cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) rays have been shown to cause deformities in certain fish species, and researchers believe these chemicals could also have harmful effects on humans, according to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology.
Previous research suggested these chemicals were not found in high enough levels to threaten the health of humans or animals, but scientists testing the waters of Shenzhen, China, found that seven of the nine most common sunscreen chemicals were found to accumulate in waters surrounding popular beaches. Traces were also recorded in a reservoir and tap water.
To see the effects of exposure to these chemicals, scientists fed zebrafish brine shrimp exposed to three of these chemicals in the lab. Adult fish were largely unaffected, but the offspring exposed to elevated levels over a longer period of time showed abnormalities and birth defects.
“The evidence from our work with zebrafish and from studies with rats suggests this could be a vital issue for human beings,” wrote the authors, who continue that traces of these chemicals in drinking water could mean additional filtering systems are needed.