Sun screen fails underwater

SUN protection creams could be potentially damaging to the marine life near the coasts.

On contact with the water the sunscreens release toxic components and this then contaminates the marine life in the area – principally marine micro-algae.

A Spanish survey done by the CISC (Centre for Scientific Investigations) has revealed that beach goers could be ruining the beaches they love just by applying sun screen – what is protecting them is contaminating the waters with chemicals which are difficult to get rid of.

The Marine Institute of Andalucia (a regional branch of the CISC) has explained that although individuals do not release very much of the toxic substance from sunscreen into the waters the vast amount of people on the beaches using these sunscreens makes all the difference and, together, it is like pouring a litre per kilometre into the sea every day.

According to Antonio Tovar, co-author of the report, the problem is that when the sunscreens are released into the water and come into contact with sunlight they react to the ultraviolet radiation and generate a strong oxidising agent, hydrogen peroxide, which is very damaging to marine micro-algae.

In order to reach their conclusions the survey team analysed the waters in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Mallorca, and the number of people on the beaches who were wearing sun screen. On the beach they analysed, which has not been identified, they calculated that over the course of a day about four litres of contaminants were left in the water every day.

The ministry of the environment has promised to look into the matter.

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