Survey of chemical substances in consumer products No 142, 2015

Survey and health assessment of UV filters


UV-protective substances are used to prevent the harmful effects of UV radiation to human skin and to different materials.

The substances are added to chemical products and materials that may result in consumer exposure. Studies have demonstrated the presence of UV-filters in the environment, in biota, in breast milk and urine of children, even during winter, where children are not expected to be exposed to sunscreens. The overall aim of the project was therefore to map the occurrence of UV filters and UV absorbers in cosmetics and other products that may lead to consumer exposure, and to assess the extent to which the application could give rise to exposure of consumers and unwanted effects on the environment and human health.

Based on the survey, it is not possible to draw a complete picture of  actual consumer exposure to UV filters and UV-absorbers in different product types,  but results from human biomonitoring studies and investigations of aquatic environments and biota demonstrate that exposure takes place, and that cosmetics are a contributing factor.

When some of the risk calculations indicate that the approved UV filters present a hazard under certain conditions, although these are considered safe to use by SCCS in the maximum allowed concentrations, it may be due to the fact that the assessments made in the present study, have the character of a screening based on a less complete data set.

The risk associated with exposure to sources other than cosmetics are not quantified due to lack of data. However, it is estimated that this exposure will only contribute a fraction of the exposure estimated for cosmetics. Shortcomings in the project are due to lack of detailed knowledge of the different sources of exposure, the extent of the exposure from sources other than cosmetics, and the likelihood of exposure constituting a problem.

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