Do nano-sunscreens harm sea life?

EarthzineEarth Observation, Oceans

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Researchers in China and California have released a new study further suggesting the possibility that nanoparticles in sunscreens are not healthy for creatures that live in the water. Their study focuses on sea urchin embryos and shows that nanomaterials in sunscreen and on boat-bottom paints make these sea animals more vulnerable to toxins. This new study is the latest in a series of studies by researchers in various parts of the world, suggesting that nano-sunscreens may be harmful to sea animals (other studies have focused on marine worms, crustaceans, algae, fish and mussels). The new study was published earlier this spring (April 7, 2015) in Environmental Science and Technology.
Nanoparticles in sunscreens are a relatively new innovation that many use. Why? Some people like them because they provide good sun protection while letting sunscreens appear clear on the skin. Others purchase them in sunscreens without knowing they are doing so. A nanometer is 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Studies have indicated that the nanoparticles can enter the body through the skin, ingestion, or inhalation. Nanoparticles also wash off in water, and the evidence shows that they may pose a risk to coastal, marine, and freshwater environments.
The April 7, 2015 study is the first to show that the nanomaterials work as chemosensitizers. In cancer treatments, a chemosensitizer makes tumor cells more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy.