Impact of parabens traced to dolphins and polar bears

Tissue samples have been found to contain methyl paraben, among others

Parabens have long divided opinion with regard to the safety of their use in cosmetics products but now a new study has exposed the impact the molecules and their metabolites are having on marine life.

A study published in Environmental Science & Technology has revealed that parabens are making their way into the tissues of marine animals including dolphins, polar bears and sea otters.

Parabens, which are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics products, were found to have accumulated in tissue samples studied by scientists from the US and Saudi Arabia. Methyl paraben was the predominant compound found in most of the marine tissue analysed; this type of paraben is among the most common used in cosmetics and personal care products alongside propylparaben and butylparaben.

The highest concentration of methyl paraben was found in the livers of bottlenose dolphins from Sarasota Bay off the west coast of Florida (865 ng/g). The predominant paraben metabolite found in all tissue samples tested was 4-Hydroxybenzoic acid. Trace amounts of methyl paraben and 4-Hydroxybenzoic acid were also found in the livers of polar bears from the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea.