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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

UF scientists unveil new sunscreen made with algae

Scientists at UF have recently developed a chemical for a new sunscreen that’s safer for humans and the environment.

The compound was created by Yousong Ding, 38, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry, and other researchers from the UF College of Pharmacy. The sunscreen is mainly composed of cyanobacteria — more commonly known as blue-green algae — which produces shinorine.

Shinorine, the main substance in the sunscreen, is able to absorb UV-rays. This compound is safer than the current chemicals used in sunscreen, oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Ding said chemical sunscreens can be highly toxic to human development, marine organisms and, most importantly, coral.

“Nature does not have a good way to remove the chemical,” Ding said.

According to a CNN report, Hawaii recently passed a bill that bans the distribution of any sunscreen that consists of oxybenzone or octinoxate. Ding hopes Florida will follow.

“It’s something we have to do for the overall conservation, and we will see the results soon,” Ding said.

Ding hopes to commercialize the alternative sunscreen soon to avoid further damage to the environment and human health.

“Biodiversity is something we’re proud of in Florida,” Ding said. “It is something we need to protect for our future generations.”

Follow Dana Cassidy on Twitter @danacassidy_ and contact her at dcassidy@alligator.org.

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