Environmental Exposure and Health Effects of Chemical UV Filters

  • Junyi Ni
  • Yingya Zhao
  • Yunhui ZhangEmail author


More and more attention has been paid to the health effects of UV filter exposure. UV filters are extensively added to personal care products to prevent sunburn, skin aging, skin cancer, and photodegradation caused by UV filter radiation. As the most widely used UV filter, ethyl-hexyl methoxycinnamate (EHMC) is used by 90% of Chinese population. EHMC is lipophilicity, and has endocrine disruptive activity. Although EHMC is widely detected in the environment, there are few reports on human exposure and health risk assessment of EHMC worldwide. In this chapter, we review the environmental exposure and biological effects of UV filters, introduce a method for the detection of EHMC and other UV filters in human urine samples, and assess the exposure level of UV filters in school-aged children. Results show that UV filters are ubiquitous in the environment, bioaccumulation, and have endocrine disruptive effects in organism. UV filters can enter the human body through dietary and skin contact and increase the health risk. Recently, a LC-QTOF-MS method is developed for the determination of EHMC and its main metabolite 4-methoxycinnamic acid in human urine samples. This method is used to detect the exposure level of six kinds of commonly used UV filters in school-aged children. Nine metabolites of four kinds are detected in urine samples, and six of which are detected in more than 50% of urine samples, including BP-3, BP-2, BP-1, EHMC, 4′-MAP, 4-MCA, and OD-PABA. UV filter levels are higher in overweight children than normal weight children, and the exposure levels in girls are significantly higher than those in boys, suggesting that the health risk of girls exposed to UV filters is relatively high currently.


UV filter Ethyl-hexyl methoxycinnamate LC-QTOF-MS measurement Children health 


  1. 1.
    Jurado A, Gago-Ferrero P, Vazquez-Sune E et al (2014) Urban groundwater contamination by residues of UV filters. J Hazard Mater 271:141–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Langford KH, Reid MJ, Fjeld E et al (2015) Environmental occurrence and risk of organic UV filters and stabilizers in multiple matrices in Norway. Environ Int 80:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Li W, Ma Y, Guo C et al (2007) Occurrence and behavior of four of the most used sunscreen UV filters in a wastewater reclamation plant. Water Res 41:3506–3512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Zhang Z, Ren N, Li Y et al (2011) Determination of benzotriazole and benzophenone UV filters in sediment and sewage sludge. Environ Sci Technol 45:3909–3916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tsui MMP, Leung HW, Wai TC et al (2014a) Occurrence, distribution and ecological risk assessment of multiple classes of UV filters in surface waters from different countries. Water Res 67:55–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    da Silva CP, Emidio ES, de Marchi MRR et al (2015) The occurrence of UV filters in natural and drinking water in Sao Paulo state (Brazil). Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:19706–19715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Diaz-Cruz MS, Gago-Ferrero P, Llora M et al (2012) Analysis of UV filters in tap water and other clean waters in Spain. Anal Bioanal Chem 402:2325–2333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Li AJ, Shang Z, Chow CH et al (2017a) Environmental behavior of 12 UV filters and photocatalytic profile of ethy-4-aminobenzoate. J Hazard Mater 337:115–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wei-Qiang Z, Ying Z, Yu S (2008) Application of sunscreen in sunscreen cosmetics. J Environ Health 25(8):699–701Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Liao C, Kannan K (2014) Widespread occurrence of benzophenone-type UV light filters in personal care products from China and the United States: an assessment of human exposure. Environ Sci Technol 48:4103–4109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Holbech H, Norum U, Korsgaard B et al (2012) The chemical UV-filter 3-benzylidene camphor causes an oestrogenic effect in an in vivo fish assay. Pharmacol Toxicol 91:204–208Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Christern V, Zucchi S, Fent K (2011) Effects of the UV-filter 2-ethyl-hexyl-4-trimethoxycinnamate (EHMC) on expression of genes involved in hormonal pathways in fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and link to vitellogenin induction and histology. Aquat Toxicol 102:167–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Zucchi S, Oggier DM, Fent K (2011) Global gene expression profile induced by the UV-filter 2-ethyl-hexyl-4-trimethoxycinnamate (EHMC) in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Environ Pollut 159:3086–3096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Sang Z, Leung KSY (2016) Environmental occurrence and ecological risk assessment of organic UV filters in marine organisms from Hong Kong coastal waters. Sci Total Environ 566-567:489–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Schlumpf M, Kypke K, Wittassek M et al (2010) Exposure patterns of UV filters, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, organochlor pesticides, PBDEs and PCBs in human milk: correlation of UV filters with use of cosmetics. Chemosphere 81:1171–1183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bae J, Kim S, Kannan K et al (2016) Couple’s urinary concentrations of benzophenone-type ultraviolet filters and the secondary sex ratio. Sci Total Environ 543:28–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gao C, Liu L, Ma W et al (2015) Benzonphenone-type UV filters in urine of Chinese young adults: concentration, source and exposure. Environ Pollut 203:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shanghai Experimental SchoolShanghaiChina
  2. 2.School of Public HealthFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Ministry of EducationFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Health Technology Assessment, National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of ChinaFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Ministry of EducationFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations