Background: The three chemical ultraviolet absorbers benzophenone-3 (BP-3), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC) and 3-(4-methylbenzylidene) camphor (4-MBC) are commercially used in sunscreens worldwide. Apart from sun protection, they may possess endocrine-disrupting effects in animals and in vitro. For all three compounds, only sporadic measurements of percutaneous absorption and excretion after topical application in humans have been described.
Methods: In this study, 32 healthy volunteers, 15 young males and 17 postmenopausal females, were exposed to daily whole-body topical application of 2 mg/cm(2) of sunscreen formulation at 10% (w/w) of each for 4 days. Blood concentrations were measured at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 24 and 96 h and urine concentrations at 0, 24, 48, 72 and 96 h.
Results: Almost all three sunscreens were undetectable in plasma and urine before the first application. One to 2 h after the first application, all three sunscreens were detectable in plasma. The maximum median plasma concentrations were 187 ng/mL BP-3, 16 ng/mL 4-MBC and 7 ng/mL OMC for females and 238 ng/mL BP-3, 18 ng/mL 4-MBC and 16 ng/mL OMC for men. In the females, urine levels of 44 ng/mL BP-3 and 4 ng/mL of 4-MBC and 6 ng/mL OMC were found, and in the males, urine levels of 81 ng/mL BP-3, 4 ng/mL of 4-MBC and OMC were found. In plasma, the 96-h median concentrations were higher compared with the 24-h concentrations for 4-MBC and OMC in men and for BP-3 and 4-MBC in females.