Gas Phase Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds Arising from the Application of Sunscreens

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The speciation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from personal care products (PCPs) is complex and contributes to poor air quality and health risks to users via the inhalation exposure pathway. Detailed VOC emission profiles were generated for 26 sunscreen products; consequently, variability was observed between products, even though they were all designed for the same purpose. Some were found to contain fragrance compounds not labelled on their ingredients list. Five contaminant VOCs were identified (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, o-xylene, and p-xylene); headspace sampling of an additional 18 randomly selected products indicated that ethanol originating from fossil petroleum was a potential source. The gas phase emission rates of the VOCs were quantified for 15 of the most commonly emitted species using SIFT-MS. A wide range of emission rates were observed between the products. Usage estimates were made based on the recommended dose per body surface area, for which the total mass of VOCs emitted from one full-body application dose was in the range of 1.49 × 103–4.52 × 103 mg and 1.35 × 102–4.11 × 102 mg for facial application (men aged 16+; children aged 2–4). Depending on age and sex, an estimated 9.8–30 mg of ethanol is inhaled from one facial application of sunscreen.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023

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