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August 22, 2014. redOrbit

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Be careful with the sunscreen the next time you hit the beach for your vacation, as new research appearing in the journal Environmental Science & Technology suggests some ingredients in the protective substance could be harmful to some forms of marine life.

In their study, experts from the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), a research center jointly operated by the Spanish National Research Council and the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), and the Andalusian Marine Sciences Institute (ICMAN) report that certain types of sunblock ingredients wash off the skin and into the sea, where they become toxic to smaller marine animals used for food by larger creatures.

The study authors, Antonio Tovar-Sanchez and David Sánchez-Quiles, explained that the titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles which are found in sunblock can react with UV light from the sun and form hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), “a strong oxidizing agent that generates high levels of stress on marine phytoplankton.”