You may have read about a new paper from the US, published in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology*, which suggests that a UV filter, Benzophenone-3 (also known as Oxybenzone), can affect coral reefs.
There is no proven link between the use of UV filters and damage to coral in our seas
The study was carried out in a laboratory and so does not replicate what is happening in nature. The deterioration of coral reefs around the world is of course a concern, but the factors that contribute to it are very complex and are not well understood. However we can state that this study does not, and cannot, make a link between the use of UV filters in sun cream and damage to coral in our seas. Consumers can feel confident in safely using cosmetic products that contain UV filters.
Cosmetic products do not contain endocrine disruptors
To address the comment in the paper and the reporting in the media that Benzophenone-3 is an endocrine disruptor, we must clarify that this is not the case. Cosmetic ingredients, including UV filters such as Benzophenone-3, are not endocrine disruptors. There is a wealth of scientific information that supports the safety of these ingredients and nothing linking them to a decline in fertility or abnormal endocrine effects. Cosmetic products are subject to strict European laws that mean they are some of the most studied products on the market and go through numerous tests before they are deemed safe to go on sale.
Not only is there robust cosmetic law, but there is also strict legislation that covers substances that could cause harm in certain circumstances. Each chemical placed on the EU market is covered by strict legal requirements that ensure a high level of protection for both human and environmental health. Benzophenone-3 is not being reviewed in these legal processes as a substance of concern.
*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.
Downs, C.A. et al. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, published online 20 October 2015.