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Published: Kem. Ind. 72 (3-4) (2023) 257–267
Paper reference number: KUI-53/2022
Paper type: Review
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SPF – Super Problematic Formula? Active Sunscreen Ingredients in the Aquatic Environment

I. Blažević, K. Kos, M. Kovačević, T. Marković, L. Sović and M. Miloloža


Increased awareness of the negative effects of sun radiation exposure has resulted in the increased production and use of sunscreens. This in turn has resulted in the accumulation of UV filters, sunscreen active ingredients, in the aquatic environment. Studies have shown that UV filters, especially those organic, such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and 4-MBC, pose a danger to a wide range of organisms. Research findings discussed in this paper refer to the toxic effect of the stated chemicals on marine and freshwater organisms, and they indicate that the presence of these chemicals in the aquatic environment has resulted in inhibition of growth and photosynthesis, reproductive and developmental disorders, organism bleaching, and even death of test organisms. Inorganic UV filters, which are mostly nanoparticle forms of TiO2 and ZnO, show lower toxicity or have hardly any effect on test organisms in the conducted ecotoxicological tests. However, in studies in which they have shown low toxicity, this toxicity is not only caused by the presence of nanoparticles, but also by the formation of reactive oxygen species, which in some organisms has caused growth inhibition, bleaching, abnormal embryogenesis, and oxidative stress. Further research is necessary to understand better the toxic effects of these compounds, and to assess more accurately the risks they pose to the aquatic environment as well as the entire ecosystem.

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sunscreens, UV filters, toxicity, aquatic environment