Occurrence, distribution and ecological risk assessment of multiple classes of UV filters in surface waters from different countries

Mirabelle M.P. Tsui, H. W. Leung, Tak Cheung Wai, Nobuyoshi Yamashita, Sachi Taniyasu, Wenhua Liu, Paul K.S. Lam, Margaret B. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

290 Citations (Scopus)


Organic UV filters are common ingredients of personal care products (PCPs), but little is known about their distribution in and potential impacts to the marine environment. This study reports the occurrence and risk assessment of twelve widely used organic UV filters in surface water collected in eight cities in four countries (China, the United States, Japan, and Thailand) and the North American Arctic. The number of compounds detected, Hong Kong (12), Tokyo (9), Bangkok (9), New York (8), Los Angeles (8), Arctic (6), Shantou (5) and Chaozhou (5), generally increased with population density. Median concentrations of all detectable UV filters were <250ng/L. The presence of these compounds in the Arctic is likely due to a combination of inadequate wastewater treatment and long-range oceanic transport. Principal component analysis (PCA) and two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were conducted to explore spatiotemporal patterns and difference in organic UV filter levels in Hong Kong. In general, spatial patterns varied with sampling month and all compounds showed higher concentrations in the wet season except benzophenone-4 (BP-4). Probabilistic risk assessment showed that 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) posed greater risk to algae, while benzophenone-3 (BP-3) and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (EHMC) were more likely to pose a risk to fishes and also posed high risk of bleaching in hard corals in aquatic recreational areas in Hong Kong. This study is the first to report the occurrence of organic UV filters in the Arctic and provides a wider assessment of their potential negative impacts in the marine environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Marine environment
  • Personal care products
  • Risk assessment
  • Seasonal variation
  • Surface water
  • Ultraviolet filters


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