We performed a trace analytical study covering nine hormonally active UV-filters by LC–MS/MS and GC–MS in river water and biota. Water was analysed at 10 sites above and below wastewater treatment plants in the river Glatt using polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS). Four UV-filters occurred in the following order of decreasing concentrations; benzophenone-4 (BP-4) > benzophenone-3 (BP-3) > 3-(4-methyl)benzylidene-camphor (4-MBC) > 2-ethyl-hexyl-4-trimethoxycinnamate (EHMC). BP-4 ranged from 0.27 to 24.0 μg/POCIS, BP-3, 4-MBC and EHMC up to 0.1 μg/POCIS. Wastewater was the most important source. Levels decreased with higher river water flow. No significant in-stream removal occurred. BP-3, 4-MBC and EHMC were between 6 and 68 ng/L in river water. EHMC was accumulated in biota. In all 48 macroinvertebrate and fish samples from six rivers lipid-weighted EHMC occurred up to 337 ng/g, and up to 701 ng/g in 5 cormorants, suggesting food-chain accumulation. UV-filters are found to be ubiquitous in aquatic systems. Several UV-filters from cosmetics and materials protection occur in rivers and EHMC accumulates in biota.