Scientists from Kings College London recently discovered a compound in seaweed which could protect human skin from the sun’s harmful rays and at the same time keep marine life healthy. While some sunscreens are in fact reef-safe, many others claim to be, but simply are not. A good majority of sunscreens have a UV radiation filter that causes coral bleaching and has negative impacts on the health of fish.
By extracting a mycosporine-like amino acid (MAA) and applying it to human skin cells in the lab, scientists noticed that low concentrations of MAA effectively protect the skin against the sun’s harmful rays. MAA, also known as palythine, is found in organisms that live in bright, shallow waters.
The paper, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, points out that further research is required to make sure the results scientists found in the lab will be shown in the field. Professor Antony Young, senior author of the paper and member of the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (part of the UN Environment Programme, UNEP) said: “There are significant concerns that conventional sun protection products are having a negative impact on the environment. Our data show that, with further research and development, marine-derived sunscreens may be a possible solution that could have a significant positive impact on the health of our marine habitats and wildlife, whilst still providing the essential sun protection that human skin requires to guard against damage that causes diseases such as skin cancer.”
Read more here.
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