Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Concentrations of the Sunscreen Agent Benzophenone-3 in Residents of the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Concentrations of the Sunscreen Agent Benzophenone-3 in Residents of the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004

Article excerpt

BACKGROUND: The capability of benzophenone-3 (BP-3) to absorb and dissipate ultraviolet radiation facilitates its use as a sunscreen agent. BP-3 has other uses in many consumer products (e.g., as fragrance and flavor enhancer, photoinitiatot, ultravioler curing agent, polymerization inhibitor).

OBJECTIVES: Our goal was to assess exposure to BP-3 in a representative sample of the U.S. general population [greater than or equal to] 6 years of age.

METHODS: Using automated solid-phase extraction coupled to high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, we analyzed 2,517 urine samples collected as part of the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

RESULTS: We detected BP-3 in 96.8% of the samples. The geometric mean and 95th percentile concentrations were 22.9 [micro]g/L (22.2 [micro]g/g creatinine) and 1,040 [micro]g/L (1,070 [micro]g/g creatinine), respectively. Least-square geometric mean (LSGM) concentrations were significantly higher (p [less than or equal to] 0.04) for females than for males, regardless of age. LSGM concentrations were significantly higher for non-Hispanic whites than for non-Hispanic blacks (p [less than or equal to] 0.01), regardless of age. Females were more likely than males [adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 3.5; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.9-6.5], and non-Hispanic whites were more likely than non-Hispanic blacks (adjusted OR =6.8; 95% CI, 2.9-16.2) to have concentrations above the 95th percentile.

CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to BP-3 was prevalent in the general U.S. population during 2003-2004. Differences by sex and race/ethnicity probably reflect differences in use of personal care products containing BP-3.

KEY WORDS: benzophenone-3, biomonitoring, exposure, human, NHANES 2003-2004, sunscreen, urine. Environ Health Perspect 116:893-897 (2008). doi:10.1289/ehp.11269 available via [Online 21 March 2008]

Benzophenone-3 [2-hydroxy-4-methoxy-benzophenone, oxybenzophenone (BP-3)], a commonly used sunscreen agent that absorbs and dissipates ultraviolet radiation, is used in a variety of cosmetic products (Gonzalez et al. 2006; National Library of Medicine 2007; Rastogi 2002). BP-3 also has been used as ultraviolet stabilizer in plastic surface coatings for food packaging to prevent polymer or food photodegradation (Suzuki et al. 2005) and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an indirect food additive.

Human exposure to BP-3 has not been associated with adverse health effects, and acute toxicity from BP-3 is low. However, results from animal studies--primarily dietary studies that affected body weight gain--showed alterations in liver, kidney, and reproductive organs in rats and mice administered BP-3 dermally and orally (National Toxicology Program 1992). Although the maximum dose that could be administered dermally was similar to the lowest orally administered dose, which produced little systemic toxicity, these results suggested that oral and dermal exposure routes might affect the animals similarly (National Toxicology Program 1992). BP-3 also shows estrogen-like activity in vitro and in vivo (Schlumpf et al. 2001, 2003, 2004a, 2004b; Suzuki et al. 2005), although in one study BP-3's estrogenic activity was observed only in the presence of a rat liver preparation, suggesting metabolic activation of BP-3 (Morohoshi et al. 2005). BP-3 can also display antiandrogenic activity in vitro (Ma et al. 2003; Schreurs et al. 2005). Thus, BP-3 might exhibit endocrine-disrupting action via both mechanisms in animals. Therefore, in vivo effects due to these combined activities should be further investigated.

The focus of pharmaceuticals and ingredients in personal care products, including organic sunscreen agents, as environmental pollutants is increasing because these compounds may enter the aquatic environment not primarily as a result of manufacturing practices but from their steady and widespread use in human and veterinary daily activities. …

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