TABLE 2-1 Common Phthalates and Examples of Uses




Insect repellent, plastic


Shampoo, scents, soap, lotion, cosmetics, industrial solvent, medications


Adhesives, caulk, cosmetics, industrial solvent, medications


Adhesives, caulk, cosmetics, industrial solvent


Vinyl flooring, adhesives, sealants, industrial solvent


Stabilizer in rubber, polymers


Soft plastic, including tubing, toys, home products, food containers, food packaging


Soft plastic


Soft plastics, replacement for DEHP

In Germany, concentrations of MBP and of DEHP metabolites decreased over the period 1988-2003 (Wittassek et al. 2007). In the United States, MBP concentrations also decreased over the period 1999-2002; however, no decline was noted for MEHP (CDC 2003, 2005). Data released by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) demonstrate exposure to multiple phthalates in most people (CDC 2003, 2005). Data from Wittassek et al. (2007) and Sathyanarayana et al. (2008) also indicate exposure to multiple phthalates.

Infant and Childhood Exposure

NHANES data show that concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites in children 6-11 years old were higher than those in adolescents and adults (CDC 2005). Several studies support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s findings that children have higher urinary concentrations than adults of DBP, BBP, and DEHP (Brock et al. 2002; Koch et al. 2004, 2005a). Differences between children and adults in the amount of urine produced per unit body weight and in body surface area may contribute to differences in urinary concentrations of specific metabolites. Whether the observed differences in urinary concentrations between children and adults result from differences in exposure or metabolism or both is unclear. In a recent study (Sathyanarayana et al. 2008), urine samples from infants were found to have detectable concentrations of multiple urinary phthalate metabolites, which suggested that exposure to multiple phthalates is common even early in life. Studies of urine samples of pregnant women (Adibi et al. 2008; Wolff et al. 2008) have suggested that fetuses may also be exposed to multiple phthalates.

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