Nav: Home

Ben-Gurion University research leads to first nationwide sunscreen chemicals ban in Palau

November 07, 2018

NEW YORK...November 7, 2018 -- The Republic of Palau, a South Pacific island nation, became the world's first country to ban sunscreen products containing environmentally harmful ingredients last Wednesday, based in part on research conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Prof. Ariel Kushmaro.

The research indicates that oxybenzone coming from swimmers' skin, municipal sewage discharge and coastal septic systems pollutes coral reefs. "We found that oxybenzone caused gross morphological deformities, DNA damage and endocrine disruption, which causes the coral to close up and die," explains Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, head of the Environmental Biotechnology Lab in the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology and Engineering.

Palau's Responsible Tourism Education Act of 2018, which takes effect in 2020, prohibits use of environmental pollutants that threaten juvenile stages of many wildlife species, including corals, fish and microalgae. The banned substances contain sun protection factor (SPF) chemicals used in sunscreen lotions or fragrances that absorb ultraviolet sunlight. These include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor, and parabens. The four parabens, triclosan and phenoxyethanol are antimicrobial preservatives also used in shampoos, moisturizers, liquid soaps, and hair conditioners.

The ban follows a similar move in Hawaii earlier this year. On May 4, the Hawaii legislature banned oxybenzone (BP3) beginning in 2021 in an attempt to prevent coral bleaching, a condition by which corals expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white.

"We are pleased to see that governments are using scientific research conducted at Ben-Gurion University to protect the delicate coral reef systems and ocean wildlife that are already under significant stress from climate change," says Prof. Kushmaro.

"We hope other countries take note of these findings and initiate the appropriate action." Prof. Kushmaro holds the John A. Ungar Chair in Biotechnology and is a member of the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev.

Marine biologists and environmentalists, including the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), say the banned substances can reduce the resiliency of ecosystems to climate change factors and, by themselves, prevent the recovery of degrading wildlife and habitats. The resulting damage to coral reefs, including coral bleaching, in the South Pacific, Caribbean, Australia, Israel, and elsewhere poses a threat to one-quarter of marine species, and threatens shorelines and vibrant tourism in affected areas.

Palau, a tiny archipelago of approximately 300 islands located 400 miles southeast of the Philippines, has long been a pioneer in marine protection, introducing the world's first shark sanctuary in 2009. It is also known as one of the world's best diving destinations.

Ben-Gurion University Prof. Kushmaro is a contributor to the 2015 study "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," published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
-end-
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. Visit vision.aabgu.org to learn more.

AABGU is headquartered in Manhattan and has nine regional offices throughout the United States. For more information, visit http://www.aabgu.org.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate change scientists should think more about sex
Climate change can have a different impact on male and female fish, shellfish and other marine animals, with widespread implications for the future of marine life and the production of seafood.
Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior
A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The psychology behind climate change denial
In a new thesis in psychology, Kirsti Jylhä at Uppsala University has studied the psychology behind climate change denial.

Related Climate Change Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".