CE34 - Contaminants, écosystèmes et santé

Coastal Uv-filters contamination as a consequence of recreational pressure during extreme Thermal events: behavior and bioenergetics to assess the Effects and to identify early warning bioindicators – CUTE

CUTE- Contamination of coastal waters with UV filters in connection with the human frequentation of coastal areas during heat waves.

Evaluation of the environmental risk linked to the release of sunscreen products by coastal users, Measurement of the contamination of coastal waters by the UV filters contained in these products, Characterisation of biological responses (behavioural and bioenergetics) in exposed organisms, Use of biological responses as early warning biomarkers.

Contamination of coastal waters with UV filters during heat waves: assessing the environmental risk in relation to human frequentation and evaluating biological effects.

Extreme climatic events, such as increasingly frequent and intense heat waves, contribute to modifying the practice of leisure activities on the coast and, as a result, are prone to modulate the amount of UV filters (UVF) released into the marine environment by users of sun protection products (SPP). <br />By adopting an interdisciplinary approach combining expertise in human geography, ecotoxicology, ecophysiology, animal behaviour and environmental chemistry, the main objectives of the CUTE project are to <br />(1) estimate beach frequentation and behaviour of SPP users during summer periods, in order to assess the environmental risk related to the contamination of coastal waters by UVF during heat waves, <br />(2) chemically characterize the coastal contamination by targeting the organic UVF as relevant compounds, taking into account the temporal (heatwave and non-heatwave periods) and spatial (Mediterranean vs. Atlantic sites) variations of these compounds, <br />(3) improve the understanding of the effects of these compounds, coupled with a heat wave, on the behaviour and bioenergetics of marine organisms in order to discern patterns that can be used as early warning biomarkers of water quality. <br />The interdisciplinary CUTE project therefore aims to understand the links between human practices, risk of contamination and effects on aquatic fauna, while participating in the development of innovative approaches to detect, at an early stage, changes in environmental quality in coastal ecosystems.

Based on an interdisciplinary approach, CUTE first proposes to explore in situ the relationship between heat episodes, coastal recreational pressures and the use of SPP. In this context, the quantification of recreational pressure is carried out by measuring beach frequentation during and outside heat waves on two Atlantic sites and one Mediterranean site. At the same time, behavioural surveys make possible the characterisation of the use of SPP from both qualitative (type used) and quantitative (intensity of 'creaming') point of view, in order to estimate the quantity and type of organic UVF potentially released into the marine environment during bathing.
Subsequently, the estimated environmental risk will be compared with the organic UVF measurements obtained at the same sites. The most relevant organic UVF were selected following a survey carried out during the first year of the project. Their concentration will be measured at the surface, in the water column, in the sediment and in the mussel Mytilus sp, chosen as the target species as a filtering organism. This in situ assessment of contaminant concentrations will allow evaluating the environmental dose to which marine organisms will be exposed during the experimental phase conducted in the laboratory.
This experimental approach will aim to expose the Mytilus sp. mussel and the Liza aurata mullet to organic UVF contamination, as well as to a marine heat wave. Bioenergetics measurements and behavioural observations will respectively aim to assess the biological impact of these stressors, as well as the avoidance capacity of these organisms. Biological parameters responding appropriately to contamination and/or temperature increase will be validated in mesocosms and their relevance as early bioindicators of water quality will be assessed in situ.

In this first phase of the CUTE project, the actions have mainly consisted of :
(1) selecting organic UVF presenting a high environmental risk; the behavioural survey (beach questionnaire in 2019 and archives in 2013) identified five UVF.
(2) producing a stock solution necessary for the experimental contamination of the organisms on the basis of the selected UVF.
(3) developing a method for assaying the UVF; extractions by absorption were abandoned due to their limit of quantification. Liquid-liquid extraction and determination by spectrometry are now the techniques retained.
(4) collecting in situ samples after developing the sampling strategy; three study sites (Minimes beach in La Rochelle, Arcachon beach and Saint Pierre beach in Palavas les Flots) and four sampling periods (pre-summer, post-summer, summer outside heatwave, summer during heatwave) were selected. Sampling will be carried out until the end of autumn 2020.
(5) developing and carrying out behavioural surveys of beach users; a questionnaire with the objectives to establish beach practices leading to the release of PPS into the marine environment was calibrated the previous year and in the spring of 2020. The beach surveys are currently underway.
(6) estimating beach frequentation; counts are currently being carried out on the 3 beaches and during the 4 previously defined periods.
(7) initiating biological experiments to assess the impact of UVF and heat waves on Liza aurata fish and Mytilus sp. mussels; the calibration of the experimental systems necessary to assess the effects of these stress factors on aquatic organisms has been carried out. Tests to estimate the bioenergetics effects of heat waves on fish have begun.

By the end of summer 2020, field surveys targeting the behaviour of beach users will have been conducted. By associating to these surveys the estimated number of users frequenting the beaches, it will be possible to calibrate a UVF pressure index taking into account factors such as the quantity of solar products applied, the number of applications, the rhythm of bathing, ... Based on the in situ sampling carried out in parallel over the same period, the links between this UVF pressure index and the UVF concentration determined on the 3 study sites, and at the 4 temporalities, will be explored.
Concerning the effects of marine heat waves and contaminants on the target species identified in this project :
- for the mussel Mytilus edulis, the behavioural response will be studied by HFNI valvometry and will participate to define the avoidance capacity of this organism, as well as to evaluate the impact of a marine heat wave alone and associated with exposure to UVF.
-for Liza aurata, the bioenergetics approach, will allow to assess the alteration of the metabolism at the individual level and also to estimate a potential impact on the fitness of the individual. At the same time, the behavioural approach will first study the individual's ability to avoid temperature and/or contamination, and then will help to define stress indicators, such as changes in activity (e.g. hyperactivity or immobility) or group structure (e.g. isolation from congeners). Subsequently, relevant stress indicators will be considered for use as early warning biomarkers in response to changes in environmental quality.

Only 5 internship reports were produced (1 in the 3rd year of Bachelor, 2 in the 1st year of Master and 2 in the 2nd year); the presentations planned during international workshops in 2020 having been cancelled as a consequence of the health crisis.

Extreme thermal events such as heat waves contribute to increase coastline recreational activities and are consequently expected to intensify the release of UV filters at sea by users of sunscreens (and other personal care products). UV filters are considered emerging contaminants of increasing concern for aquatic ecosystems, since these chemicals compounds are bioaccumulated and biomagnified through the food chain, are toxic at very low concentrations and are detected at high concentrations in marine and freshwater ecosystems. However, although the toxicity of these compounds has already been studied in freshwater ecosystems, few investigations concerns their impact in marine ecosystems.
Concomitantly to UV filters contamination, heatwaves also provoke drastic water temperature increase - called marine heatwaves - impacting coastal ecosystems. In addition to the fact that few studies took into account the impact of UV filters on marine ecosystems, no study investigated the effects of both stressors (UV filters contamination and water temperature increase) on marine organisms.
In this context, through a interdisciplinary approach, the project CUTE proposes: to demonstrate in situ the relation between heatwaves events, recreational coastal activities and UV filters use (Work Package1, WP1); to evaluate, via an experimental approach, the impact of UV filters contamination and warm water events on the bioenergetics and the behavior of marine organisms’ i.e. the mussel Mytilus sp. and the fish Liza aurata (WP2); to validate in semi-natural mesocosms the behavioral responses observed in WP2 and to explore their relevancy as in situ and early warning bioindicators for declining water quality (WP3). In parallel, environmental chemistry conducted in WP4 will permit (a) to evaluate the impact of recreational pressure and UV filters use on in situ water and organisms’ contaminations (in the framework of the WP1); (b) to correlate the biological effects observed with the levels of contamination (in the framework of WP2 and 3). Finally, a specific WP0 will be devoted to the coordination, communication in the consortium, exploitation of the outcomes and dissemination of the acquired knowledge.
In this interdisciplinary project, partners of the consortium are leaders in their research field (social geography, ecotoxicology, ecophysiology, environmental chemistry and behavior). By using an innovative and non-conventional approach, CUTE has the potential for unravelling unexplored areas of knowledge as it usually happens when relatively distant disciplines are combined in an integrative study. In addition to insure the implementation of the project, this network will enhance the dissemination of the knowledge and the exploitation of the results. Indeed, CUTE will disseminate knowledge (a) in the academic sphere thanks to congresses and publications; (b) in the non-academic public sector by bringing together in workshops managers of marine protected areas and partners of the project; (c) in the private sector by inviting to workshops managers and researchers of personal-care products industry; (d) in public events, presenting project and results.
Consequently, this project will impact different levels of the society. Indeed, in addition to an important advance in the state of the art in different disciplines, CUTE could raise awareness about the toxicological impact of UV filters in coastal areas. Moreover, the project could permit to develop more friendly-environmental personal care products. Finally, results will participate to set-up new types of bioindicators able to inform us in real-time about contamination of ecosystems.
In summary, this project, which fully integrated in the axis B11.6 “contaminants, ecosystems and health” of the ANR action plan, presents all the fruitfulness of an integrative study at the frontier of knowledge between human social science, chemistry and biology.

Project coordinator

Madame Christel Lefrançois (Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


EPOC Environnements et paléoenvironnements océaniques et continentaux
LIENSs Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés

Help of the ANR 325,443 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2018 - 36 Months

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