Squalene Depletion in Skin Following Human Exposure to Ozone under Controlled Chamber Conditions

Sarka Langer*, Charles J. Weschler, Gabriel Bekö, Glenn Morrison, Ann Sjöblom, Georgios Giovanoulis, Pawel Wargocki, Nijing Wang, Nora Zannoni, Shen Yang, Jonathan Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A major component of human skin oil is squalene, a highly unsaturated hydrocarbon that protects the skin from atmospheric oxidants. Skin oil, and thus squalene, is continuously replenished on the skin surface. Squalene is also quickly consumed through reactions with ozone and other oxidants. This study examined the extent of squalene depletion in the skin oils of the forearm of human volunteers after exposure to ozone in a climate chamber. Temperature, relative humidity (RH), skin coverage by clothing, and participants' age were varied in a controlled manner. Concentrations of squalene were determined in skin wipe samples collected before and after ozone exposure. Exposures to ozone resulted in statistically significant decreases in post-exposure squalene concentrations compared to pre-exposure squalene concentrations in the skin wipes when squalene concentrations were normalized by concentrations of co-occurring cholesterol but not by co-occurring pyroglutamic acid (PGA). The rate of squalene loss due to ozonolysis was lower than its replenishment on the skin surface. Within the ranges examined, temperature and RH did not significantly affect the difference between normalized squalene levels in post-samples versus pre-samples. Although not statistically significant, skin coverage and age of the volunteers (three young adults, three seniors, and three teenagers) did appear to impact squalene depletion on the skin surfaces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Pages (from-to)6693-6703
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Skin oils
  • Skin wipes
  • Ozonolysis
  • Cholesterol
  • Pyroglutamic acid
  • Climate chamber
  • Pollutant exposure


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