Sunscreens are widely utilized due to the adverse effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation on human health. The safety of their active ingredients as well as that of any modified versions generated during use is thus of concern. Chlorine is used as a chemical disinfectant in swimming pools. Its reactivity suggests sunscreen components might be chlorinated, altering their absorptive and/or cytotoxic properties. To test this hypothesis, the UV-filters oxybenzone, dioxybenzone, and sulisobenzone were reacted with chlorinating agents and their UV spectra analyzed. In all cases, a decrease in UV absorbance was observed. Given that chlorinated compounds can be cytotoxic, the effect of modified UV-filters on cell viability was examined. Chlorinated oxybenzone and dioxybenzone caused significantly more cell death than unchlorinated controls. In contrast, chlorination of sulisobenzone actually reduced cytotoxicity of the parent compound. Exposing a commercially available sunscreen product to chlorine also resulted in decreased UV absorbance, loss of UV protection, and enhanced cytotoxicity. These observations show chlorination of sunscreen active ingredients can dramatically decrease UV absorption and generate derivatives with altered biological properties.
Vaughn F. Sherwood, Steven Kennedy, Hualin Zhang, Gordon H. Purser, Robert J. Sheaff
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Tulsa,Tulsa, Oklahoma
Address for Correspondence: Dr. Robert J. Sheaff, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Tulsa, 800 South Tucker Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104. Tel: 918-631-2319. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org