Urinary concentrations of benzophenone type ultraviolet light filters and semen quality

Urinary concentrations of two benzophenone-type ultraviolet filters (BP-2, BP-8), chemicals used as sunscreens, were found to be associated with select semen endpoints.

Germaine M. Buck Louis, Ph.D., Zhen Chen, Ph.D., Sungduk Kim, Ph.D., Katherine J. Sapra, M.P.H., M.Phil., Jisuk Bae, M.D., Ph.D., Kurunthachalam Kannan, Ph.D.

Volume 104, Issue 4, Pages 989-996


To assess benzophenone-type ultraviolet (UV) filter concentrations, chemicals used in sunscreen and personal care products, and semen endpoints.


Sixteen counties in Michigan and Texas.

A total of 413 men provided semen and urine samples, 2005–2009. Five UV filters were quantified (ng/mL) in urine using liquid chromatography–triple quadrupole mass spectrometry: BP-1 (2,4-dihydroxybenzophenone), BP-2 (2,2′,4,4′-tetrahydroxybenzophenone), BP-3 (2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone), BP-8 (2,2′-dihydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone), and 4-OH-BP (4-hydroxybenzophenone). Using linear regression, β-coefficients (β) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for each chemical dichotomized at the 75th percentile and Box-Cox transformed semen endpoint were estimated, after adjusting for age, body mass index, cotinine, season, and site.


Main Outcome Measure(s):
Thirty-five semen endpoints.

BP-2 was associated with diminished sperm concentration (β = −0.74; 95% CI −1.41, −0.08), straight (β = −4.57; 95% CI −8.95, −0.18) and linear movement (β = −3.15; 95% CI −6.01, −0.30), more immature sperm (β = 0.38; 95% CI 0.15, 0.62), and a decreased percentage of other tail abnormalities (β = −0.16; 95% CI −0.31, −0.01). BP-8 was associated with decreased hypo-osmotic swelling (β = −2.57; 95% CI −4.86, −0.29) and higher acrosome area (β = 1.14; 95% CI 0.01, 2.26). No associations were observed for BP-1, BP-3, or 4OH-BP.

The findings suggest that specific UV filters may be associated with some aspects of semen endpoints, but await future corroboration.

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