Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Danovaro R., Bongiorni L., Corinaldesi C., Giovannelli D., Damiani E., Astolfi P., Greci L., Pusceddu A. Sunscreens cause coral bleaching by promoting viral infections. In: Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 116 (4) pp. 441 - 447. US DEPT HEALTH HUMAN SCIENCES PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENCE, NATL INST HEALTH, NATL INST ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCE, 2008.
BACKGROUND: Coral bleaching (i.e., the release of Coral symbiotic zooxanthellae) has negative impacts on biodiversity and functioning of reef ecosystems and their production of goods and services. This increasing world-wide phenomenon is associated with temperature anomalies, high irradiance, Pollution, and bacterial diseases. Recently, it has been demonstrated that personal care products, including Sunscreens, have an impact on aquatic organisms similar to that of other contaminants. OBJECTVIES: Our goal was to evaluate the potential impact of sunscreen ingredients on hard corals and their symbiotic algae. METHODS: In situ and laboratory experiments were conducted in several tropical regions (the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and the Red Sea) by supplementing coral branches with aliquots of sunscreens and common ultraviolet filters contained in sunscreen formula. Zooxanthellae were checked for viral infection by epifluorescence and transmission electron microscopy analyses. RESULTS: Sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations. The effect of sunscreens is due to organic ultraviolet filters, which are able to induce the lyric viral cycle in symbiotic zooxanthellae with latent infections.
DOI: 10.1289/ehp.10966
Subject bleaching
UV filters

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