Collaboration with University of Mons and University of Paris 6 (Pierre and Marie Curie University).
Organic UV-filters represent an invisible threat to our oceans affecting the biodiversity, marine resources and the economic growth. UV-filters are widely used in cosmetics, sunscreens and more generally in Personal Care Products (PCP) comprising shampoos, fragrances, and skin lotions among others. Those molecules are made of single to multiple aromatic structures and are highly lipophilic. Consequently, they tend to be more concentrated in the surface microlayerof our oceans and/or adsorb on particulate matter. These compounds can directly reach the oceans through swimming on the sea, or indirectly through the effluent of the wastewaters. Because of the widespread PCPs use and their insoluble properties, UV-filters bioaccumulate in marine organisms at various trophic levels (algae, corals, mussels, fishes). Almost 50% of the UV-filters found in cosmetics on the European market are hazardous for the aquatic environment according to the current Cosmetic Directive. Those toxic compounds enhance oxidative stress, affect the immune response, cause coral bleaching, and are endocrine disruptors thus affecting fecundity and reproduction in fishes. Recognition of harmful effects of UV-filters on human health such as skin sensitization, photoallergy or risk of breast cancer have drawn people’s attention to regulate the concentration of those molecules in PCPs. In order to assess the toxicity of UV-filters, prevent and communicate their environmental and socio-economic effects, there is an urgent need to understand to what extent marine microbial communities, crucial in the major biogeochemical balances of the planet, are affected by the toxicity of those chemicals. The findings of UV-COP will impact on policy development in relation to the challenges of global change, natural resource sustainability, biodiversity conservation and management of human impacts. UV-COP will also offer eco-friendly alternatives to the cosmetics industry, through the identification of new molecules, with important commercial value.