Environmental Risk Assessment of Sunscreens

Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 94)


The sunscreens are complex products for protecting the skin of UV radiation. These products contain active ingredients organic and inorganic UV filters. The release of some of these components can provoke negative effects to aquatic ecosystems. The UV filters have shown to be present in environmental compartments (freshwater, wastewater, groundwater, seawater, sediment, and sand) and to be ubiquitous, motivated by the use in other applications. To assess the environmental risk of these products implies to know exposure conditions and toxic effects in order to establish the risk quotient. This is calculated as the ratio between predicted environmental concentration (PEC) or measured environmental concentration (MEC) and predicted no-effect concentration (PNEC). The organic compounds that presented higher risk were benzophenone-3, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor. Nevertheless, this risk is depending on the location and environmental compartment. The lack of a database concentration of inorganic nanoparticles (TiO2 and ZnO) makes difficult to carry out a realistic assessment of environmental risk, although using modeled data an approach was carried out. The results evidenced that certain risk can be related to the release of these nanomaterials from sunscreens, although a refinement will be necessary to reduce the uncertainties. Finally, some gaps of information have been identified in order to get a more realistic environmental risk assessment. Thus, the toxicity of the mixture of sunscreens compounds under realistic conditions and the improvement of the knowledge of their mode of actions could be the next steps.


Agglomerations Biocidal Estuarine ecosystems Herbicides Nanomaterials Phytoplankton Sunscreens 



We would like to thank to the projects CTM2016-75908-R funding by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO) and FEDER funds and the Junta de Andalucía PAIDI, Excellence Research Group RNM306 for their support.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía (CSIC), Campus Río San Pedro, Puerto RealCádizSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas de Vigo (CSIC), VigoPontevedraSpain

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