In January 2019 researchers from the USA published their review on the environmental effects of oxybenzone and other sunscreen active ingredients. The use of sunscreens has increased in line with increased awareness concerning the risks of sunburn, photoaging, and skin cancer. Both organic and inorganic filters are used in sunscreen products but concerns have been raised over the environmental effects of commonly used ultraviolet filters, including oxybenzone, camphor, octocrylene and octinoxate. Ultraviolet filters such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, and ethylhexyl salicylate have been isolated in almost all water sources around the world, and scientists have found that they are not easily removed by the current common wastewater treatment plant processes. In addition, studies have found that oxybenzone has been directly implicated as a possible contributor to coral reef bleaching. Camphor, oxybenzone, octocrylene and octinoxate have also been identified in various species of fish worldwide, which may well have possible consequences for the food chain. However, the researchers concluded that despite this, as dermatologists, they have to continue emphasizing the public health impact of excessive sun exposure and give advice about proper protection, which includes seeking shade, wearing protective clothing (including hats and sunglasses), and applying appropriate sunscreens.
Schneider SL, Lim HW. Review of environmental effects of oxybenzone and other sunscreen active ingredients. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019 Jan;80(1):266-271.