Ultraviolet Light Screen Chemical Contamination of Coral Reefs in the Virgin Islands National Park

Primary Investigators

USGS Investigators: Tim Bargar

NPS Investigators: Thomas Kelley

Project Details

Start Year: 2020

Category: Synoptic

2020 2021
$75,000 $75,000
Project Location

NPS Park: Virgin Islands NP

USGS Center: Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

States: VI

Many studies have reported on the toxicity of ultraviolet light (UV) screen chemicals oxybenzone (benzonphenone-3 or BP-3) and octinoxate to aquatic organisms. Oxybenzone and several other sunscreen chemical ingredients are banned in Key West, Hawaii, and the South Pacific island nation Palau.

Resource managers at the VIIS are concerned about possible UV screen chemical effects in the marine ecosystem. The range of concentrations reported in studies of UV screen chemical concentrations for rivers, freshwater lakes, and ocean coastal areas is from 0.5 –7 parts per billion. Pertinent to the Virgin Islands National Park (VIIS) is the fact that some of the highest reported concentrations were from marine waters close to recreational beaches. While risk could be estimated using concentrations from other locations around the world or the surf zones of VIIS, contamination data for coral reefs have not been reported in the literature.

This study will determine UV screen chemical concentrations in water of coral reefs in bays with beaches popular with tourists at VIIS.