Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands

C. A. Downs*, Esti Kramarsky-Winter, Roee Segal, John Fauth, Sean Knutson, Omri Bronstein, Frederic R. Ciner, Rina Jeger, Yona Lichtenfeld, Cheryl M. Woodley, Paul Pennington, Kelli Cadenas, Ariel Kushmaro, Yossi Loya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Benzophenone-3 (BP-3; oxybenzone) is an ingredient in sunscreen lotions and personal-care products that protects against the damaging effects of ultraviolet light. Oxybenzone is an emerging contaminant of concern in marine environments - produced by swimmers and municipal, residential, and boat/ship wastewater discharges. We examined the effects of oxybenzone on the larval form (planula) of the coral Stylophora pistillata, as well as its toxicity in vitro to coral cells from this and six other coral species. Oxybenzone is a photo-toxicant; adverse effects are exacerbated in the light. Whether in darkness or light, oxybenzone transformed planulae from a motile state to a deformed, sessile condition. Planulae exhibited an increasing rate of coral bleaching in response to increasing concentrations of oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a genotoxicant to corals, exhibiting a positive relationship between DNA-AP lesions and increasing oxybenzone concentrations. Oxybenzone is a skeletal endocrine disruptor; it induced ossification of the planula, encasing the entire planula in its own skeleton. The LC50 of planulae exposed to oxybenzone in the light for an 8- and 24-h exposure was 3.1 mg/L and 139 μg/L, respectively. The LC50s for oxybenzone in darkness for the same time points were 16.8 mg/L and 779 μg/L. Deformity EC20 levels (24 h) of planulae exposed to oxybenzone were 6.5 μg/L in the light and 10 μg/L in darkness. Coral cell LC50s (4 h, in the light) for 7 different coral species ranges from 8 to 340 μg/L, whereas LC20s (4 h, in the light) for the same species ranges from 0.062 to 8 μg/L. Coral reef contamination of oxybenzone in the U.S. Virgin Islands ranged from 75 μg/L to 1.4 mg/L, whereas Hawaiian sites were contaminated between 0.8 and 19.2 μg/L. Oxybenzone poses a hazard to coral reef conservation and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-288
Number of pages24
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Volume70
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016

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