Organic ultraviolet filters in nearshore waters and in the invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) in Grenada, West Indies
Sunscreens and other personal care products use organic ultraviolet (UV) filters such as oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, Padimate-O, and octyl methoxycinnamate to prevent damage to human skin. While these compounds are effective at preventing sunburn, they have a demonstrated negative effect on cells and tissues across taxonomic levels. These compounds have a relatively short half-life in seawater but are continuously re-introduced via recreational activities and wastewater discharge, making them environmentally persistent. Because of this, testing seawater samples for the presence of these compounds may not be reflective of their abundance in the environment. Bioaccumulation of organic ultraviolet filters in a high-trophic level predator may provide greater insight to the presence and persistence of these compounds. To address this, the present study collected seawater samples as well as muscle and stomach content samples from the invasive Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the nearshore waters of Grenada, West Indies to examine the use of lionfish as potential bioindicator species. Seawater and lionfish samples were collected at four sites that are near point sources of wastewater discharge and that receive a high number of visitors each year. Samples were tested for the presence and concentrations of oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), Padimate-O, and octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Oxybenzone residues were detected in 60% of seawater samples and OMC residues were detected in 20% of seawater samples. Seawater samples collected in the surface waters near Grenada’s main beach had oxybenzone concentrations more than ten times higher than seawater samples collected in less frequently visited areas and the highest prevalence of UV filters in lionfish. Residues of oxybenzone were detected in 35% of lionfish muscle and 4-MBC residues were detected in 12% of lionfish muscle. Padimate-O was not detected in either seawater or lionfish samples. No organic UV filters were detected in lionfish stomach contents. Histopathologic examination of lionfish demonstrated no significant findings attributed to UV filter toxicity. These findings report UV filter residue levels for the first time in inshore waters in Grenada. Results indicate that lionfish may be bioaccumulating residues and may be a useful sentinel model for monitoring organic ultraviolet filters in the Caribbean Sea.