Development of mutagenic activity following the chlorination of the sunscreen UV filter benzophenone-8 (dioxybenzone) in bromide-rich water


  • Manasfi Tarek
  • de Méo Michel
  • Coulomb Bruno
  • Giorgio Carole Di
  • Ravier Sylvain
  • Boudenne Jean-Luc


  • Sunscreen UV filters
  • Chlorination
  • Disinfection byproducts
  • Mutagenicity
  • Halogenated tranformation products

document type



The mutagenicity of four organic UV filters namely oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), dioxybenzone (benzophenone-8), avobenzone, and octyl methoxycinnamate, in chlorinated bromide-rich water (artificial seawater) was investigated. Mutagenicity was evaluated using Ames test in Salmonella typhimurium TA98 without S9 mix. Chemical analysis using high-resolution mass spectrometry was carried out to elucidate the mutagenic transformation products. Among the studied UV filters, only dioxybenzone exhibited a clear mutagenic activity following chlorination in seawater at ratio 1:10 (UV filter:chlorine). In contrast, no mutagenic activity was detected when chlorine was added at higher doses (ratio 1:1000). High-resolution mass spectrometry analysis showed that mutagenic extracts contained several brominated transformation products of dioxybenzone. Time course analysis of the transformation products at increasing chlorine doses showed that they were unstable and disappeared more quickly at higher chlorine doses. This instability explained the absence of mutagenic activity of dioxybenzone when 1000-fold excess chlorine was added, as no transformation products were detected. Relevance of these findings to the context of swimming pool is discussed. Further investigations taking into consideration the mutagenicity of not only the intermediate transformation products but also the final disinfection byproducts are needed to determine the overall impact of high levels of chlorine on the overallmutagenicity. This study highlights the importance of considering the reactivity of organicnUV filters and their transformation products in disinfected recreational waters when sunscreen formulations are prepared.

more information