Occurrence and distribution of UV-filters and other anthropogenic contaminants in coastal surface water, sediment, and coral tissue from Hawaii

Carys L. Mitchelmore, Ke He, Michael Gonsior, Ethan Hain, Andrew Heyes, Cheryl Clark, Rick Younger, Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Anna Feerick, Annaleise Conway, Lee Blaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


The occurrence of UV-filters in the environment has raised concerns over potentially adverse impacts on corals. In this study, the concentrations of 13 UV-filters and 11 hormones were measured in surface seawater, sediment, and coral tissue from 19 sites in Oahu, Hawaii. At least eight UV-filters were detected in seawater, sediment, and coral tissue and total mass concentrations of all UV-filters were <750 ng L −1 , <70 ng g −1 dry weight (dw), and <995 ng g −1 dw, respectively. Four UV-filters were detected in water, sediment, and coral tissue at detection frequencies of 63–100%, 56–91%, and 82–100%, respectively. These UV-filter concentrations generally varied as follows: water, homosalate (HMS) > octisalate (OS) > benzophenone-3 (BP-3, also known as oxybenzone) > octocrylene (OC); sediment, HMS > OS > OC > BP-3; coral, OS ≈ HMS > OC ≈ BP-3. BP-3 concentrations in surface seawater were <10 ng L −1 at 12 of 19 sites and highest at Waikiki beach (e.g., 10.9–136 ng L −1 ). While BP-3 levels were minimal in sediment (e.g., <1 ng g −1 dw at 18 of 19 sites), and ranged from 6.6 to 241 ng g −1 dw in coral tissue. No quantifiable levels of 2-ethylhexyl 4-methoxycinnamate (also known as octinoxate) were recorded in surface seawater or coral tissues, but 5–12.7 ng g −1 dw was measured for sediment at 5 of 19 sites. No hormones were detected in seawater or sediment, but 17α-ethinylestradiol was present in three corals from Kaneohe Bay. Surfactant degradation products were present in seawater, especially at Waikiki beach. These results demonstrate ubiquitous parts-per-trillion concentrations of UV-filters in surface seawater and is the first report of UV-filters in coral tissue from U.S.A. coastal waters. These data inform the range of environmentally-relevant concentrations for future risk assessments on the potential impacts of UV-filters on coral reefs in Oahu, Hawaii.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-410
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2019


  • Coral
  • Hormones
  • Octinoxate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Sunscreen
  • UV-filters


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