MONITORING AND FATE OF ORGANIC SUNSCREEN COMPOUNDS IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT
Bratkovics, Stephanie Danielle
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Organic UV filters are increasingly being used in personal care products to protect skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation. In addition, chemicals found in this class of emerging contaminants are used as flavoring ingredients, as well as in plastic coverings for the preservation of food, in the manufacturing of insecticides and agricultural chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs. Consequently, it has been estimated that hundreds of tons of sunscreen compounds are released into the environment annually by both direct and indirect routes. In order to determine the concentrations of several major organic UV-filtering chemicals (oxybenzone, dioxybenzone, sulisobenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, and padimate-O), a multi-residue protocol was developed to extract and quantify the target analytes from sea and potable water using HPLC/MS/MS. To better understand these chemicals behavior in marine waters, the fate of selected compounds in seawater under different light regimes was also evaluated. Concurrent to the laboratory investigations, marine samples were analyzed and used to assess the relationships between land use and the distribution of sunscreen compounds along coastal South Carolina. Finally, concentrations of sunscreen compounds were determined in nationally protected coral reef environments. Laboratory based fate experiments resulted in compound dependent degradation over the course of the experiment, and included the observed transformation of specific target analytes into possible tautomer/rotamer forms. Five of the seven target analytes were detected in seawater samples from coastal South Carolina over the course of the yearlong environmental monitoring venture. Patterns in concentrations were observed based on season and proportion of developed land at each of the South Carolina sites. Four target analytes were detected in reef sites in the Florida Keys, while two were quantified in samples from the Virgin Islands. The presence of the compounds at even remote sites in open water reef systems warrants further attention, as the compounds are known to have hormonal effects on various aquatic organisms, in addition to promoting the bleaching of coral species. Understanding the presence and quantities of anthropogenic UV-filtering chemicals, along with understanding the potential fate of these compounds in the aquatic environment, may allow for a more responsible approach for planning and management of beach and coastal waters as well as marine protected areas.