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Human exposure to phthalates via consumer products

Authors


Ted Schettler MD, MPH, Science and Environmental Health Network, 39 Bromfield St., Newburyport, MA, USA. E-mail: tschettler@igc.org

Summary

Phthalate exposures in the general population and in subpopulations are ubiquitous and widely variable. Many consumer products contain specific members of this family of chemicals, including building materials, household furnishings, clothing, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, medical devices, dentures, children's toys, glow sticks, modelling clay, food packaging, automobiles, lubricants, waxes, cleaning materials and insecticides. Consumer products containing phthalates can result in human exposures through direct contact and use, indirectly through leaching into other products, or general environmental contamination. Historically, the diet has been considered the major source of phthalate exposure in the general population, but all sources, pathways, and their relative contributions to human exposures are not well understood. Medical devices containing di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate are a source of significant exposure in a susceptible subpopulation of individuals. Cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and insecticides, may result in significant but poorly quantified human exposures to dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, or dimethyl phthalate. Oven baking of polymer clays may cause short-term, high-level inhalation exposures to higher molecular weight phthalates.

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