Chemicals in sunscreens damaging Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

Posidonia Oceanica, or Mediterranean Seagrass, from Naxos, Greece. Credit: Mark Burgess/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY SA 3.0

A recent study found that chemicals in sunscreens can damage vital seagrass ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceania has been particularly affected by chemicals, according to the study published in the “Marine Pollution Bulletin”.

UV filters and other chemicals found in sunscreens, such as oxybenzone, 4-methyl avobenzone and methylparabens, have also been found in the stems of seagrass beds, which are commonly seen near Majorca, Spain, and which originate from the Mediterranean Sea.

Chemicals From Sunscreen Found In Mediterranean Sea Seagrass

As the samples of the plants were taken near Mallorca, a major tourist destination, scientists believe the UV filters found in the plant likely come from sunscreen used by bathers.

“As the Mediterranean Sea is shallow, small and very enclosed, concentrations of UV-absorbing chemicals can reach high levels. [levels]”said Dr. Silvia Díaz Cruz, co-author of the study, to The Guardian.

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Seagrasses are vital for the health of many Mediterranean ecosystems. Many fish and small sea creatures live in the plants, and the roots of seagrass beds are essential for holding sand in place and preventing erosion.

Scientists don’t yet know if the chemicals have a negative impact on plants, but studies of marine life and coral reefs have shown that sunscreens can have disastrous effects on fish and marine mammals.

For this reason, the toxic chemicals found in sunscreens are banned in areas rich in marine life, such as Florida and Hawaii, with “reef-safe” sunscreen alternatives offered instead.

Sunscreen chemicals may need to be regulated

Although such sunscreen alternatives are available in many Mediterranean countries, there are no restrictions in place regarding the use of chemicals harmful to marine life in the region.

“If we find that sunscreens affect photosynthesis and seagrass productivity beyond accumulation, we will have a problem because these seagrass beds play an important ecological role on Mediterranean coasts, the co-author said. Nona Agawin. The Guardian.

“If we find out which components of sunscreen are harmful to seagrass beds, we should better regulate and provide alternatives to protect bathers and seagrass beds,” she continued.

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the richest and most beautiful bodies of water in the world – and it is also one of the saltiest.

Almost entirely enclosed by land, Homer’s “wine sea” has played a pivotal role in the history of Western civilization.

Geological evidence tells us that around 5.9 million years ago the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and partially or completely dried up over a period of around 600,000 years during what it is called the “Messinian salinity crisis” – before being filled by the Zanclean flood. about 5.3 million years ago.

Travelers who have never been to the Mediterranean may not realize how vastly different its waters are from the great oceans of the world. As anyone who has been there can attest, there is a great degree of buoyancy in its waters, as its density is greater than most ocean waters due to its high salt content.

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