Document Type



Rappahannock Community College

Publication Date

Spring 2019


Sunscreen provides protection against skin cancer by reducing UV exposure to the skin. Active ingredients come in two basic forms, chemical and mineral; ongoing research indicates that some active ingredients in sunscreen are harmful to marine life. This study is an analysis of chemical and mineral SPF 30 sunscreens to determine which provides the highest efficacy for skin protection while also providing the lowest toxicity to aquatic organisms. Sunscreen efficacy was tested by exposing photoreactive chemical paper applied with chemical and mineral sunscreens to the sun. Results of the photo effect paper trial showed a wide variation in the efficacy of SPF 30 rated sunscreen, ANOVA p=2.3E-09. Aquatic algae and mosquito larvae were exposed to a series of 6 different test solutions of sunscreens and a control over a 72 hour period. Results of showed statistically different effects of the 6 test solutions, with ANOVA p=0.0358 for mosquito survival and ANOVA p=6.27E-07 for the algae test. This study has demonstrated that brand reported sun protection factor is not accurate or consistent for all sunscreens tested. The results support other published research that indicates that the active ingredients in sunscreen can potentially cause significant harm to organisms in the environment.


Taylor Yates won the 1st place Spring 2019 Student Research Paper Award from the Rappahannock Community College Library for this paper.



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