Method development and initial results of testing for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in waterproof sunscreens

  • Keawmanee, Sasipin (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University) ;
  • Boontanon, Suwanna Kitpati (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University) ;
  • Boontanon, Narin (Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies, Mahidol University)
  • Received : 2014.05.29
  • Accepted : 2015.02.19
  • Published : 2015.06.30


Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are persistent environmental pollutants, extremely stable, and possibly adversely affect human health. They are widely used in many industries and consumer goods, including sunscreen products. These substances are stable chemicals made of long carbon chains, having both lipid- and water-repellent qualities. The research objectives are (1) to find the most effective method for the preparation of semi-liquid samples by comparing solid phase extraction (SPE) and centrifugation after Pressurized liquid extraction (PLE), and (2) to determine the contamination levels of PFOS and PFOA in waterproof sunscreen samples. All sunscreen samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Sunscreen samples were purchased from domestic and international brands sold in Thailand. Special chemical properties were considered for the selection of samples, e.g., those found in waterproof, sweat resistant, water resistant, and non-stick products. Considering the factors of physical properties, e.g., operation time, chemical consumption, and recovery percentage for selecting methods to develop, the centrifugation method using 2 mL of extracted sample with the conditions of 12,000 rpm and $5^{\circ}C$ for 1 hour after PLE was chosen. The highest concentrations of PFOS and PFOA were detected at 0.0671 ng/g and 21.0644 ng/g, respectively. Even though present concentrations are found at ng/g levels, the daily use of sunscreen products is normally several grams. Therefore, a risk assessment of PFOS and PFOA contamination in sunscreen products is an important concern, and more attention needs to be paid to the long-term effects on human health.


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