Safety Concerns of Organic Ultraviolet Filters: Special Focus on Endocrine-Disrupting Properties

J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2020;39(3):201-212. doi: 10.1615/JEnvironPatholToxicolOncol.2020033188.


Acute and chronic effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) on human health have long been a concern. It is well known that acute UVR causes epidermal hyperplasia, erythema, delayed tanning, pigment darkening, and free-radical formation. Apart from acute effects of UVR, its chronic effects involve immunosuppression, photoaging, exacerbation, photodermatoses, and photocarcinogenesis. To protect skin from harmful effects of UVR, UV filters were developed. But these may cause harmful effects in humans and on the environment; adverse effects of these chemicals have been evaluated for > 20 yr. Studies show that UV filters may lead to endocrine disruption, hepatotoxicity, mutagenicity, and systemic toxicity. Literature on environmental effects of UV filters suggests that they are bioaccumulative, pseudopersistent, and possibly toxic to aquatic ecosystems. The objective of this review is to summarize toxic effects and safety concerns of organic UV filters on human beings and the environment. We focus on UV filters' organic endocrine-disrupting effects by reviewing both in vivo and in vitro studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Endocrine Disruptors / chemistry
  • Endocrine Disruptors / pharmacokinetics
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Organic Chemicals / chemistry
  • Organic Chemicals / pharmacokinetics
  • Organic Chemicals / toxicity*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Sunscreening Agents / chemistry
  • Sunscreening Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Sunscreening Agents / toxicity*


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Sunscreening Agents