Dr. Menzie Briefs EPA, Public on Possible Sunscreen Risks to Aquatic Ecosystems

Exponent principal scientist and co-authors review key findings of newly released National Academies report

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August 18, 2022

Exponent's Charles A. Menzie, Ph.D., principal scientist, and his co-authors addressed the Environmental Protection Agency and the public about their newly released report, "Review of Fate, Exposure, and Effects of Sunscreen in Aquatic Environments and Implications for Sunscreen Usage and Human Health" August 9. A recording of the live briefing, hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, has been made available on the organization's website.

For the past 18 months, Dr. Menzie has chaired the NASEM Committee on Environmental Impact of Currently Marketed Sunscreens and Potential Human Impacts of Changes in Sunscreen Usage that produced the report, which outlines the risks sunscreen products pose to aquatic ecosystems. During the August 9 public briefing, Dr. Menzie and his colleagues presented key findings from their report.

Specifically, their report focuses on ultraviolet filters, a key active ingredient in sunscreens and possible source of contamination in aquatic environments. Although it's well known that UV filters provide skin protection by blocking the sun, their environmental impact is not well understood. In their report, Dr. Menzie and his co-authors examine 17 chemical and mineral UV filters used in the U.S. and recommend that EPA launch an ecological risk assessment of UV filters to better understand their possible risks to and impact on aquatic ecosystems and human health.

"Biodegradation is one of the key considerations regarding persistence in the environment … To date, only a few studies are available on biodegradation of UV filters in natural environmental settings, so that would be an emphasis to look at [in the future]," said Dr. Menzie.

Access other media coverage of Dr. Menzie and co-authors: National Academies NewsChemical and Engineering NewsBusiness Wire, and E&E News.