A new study published online on April 21, 2015 in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health assesses phthalate exposure in Austrian children and adults. Hartmann and colleagues measured 14 phthalate metabolites of 10 parent phthalates in urine of the participants of the Austrian Study on Nutritional Status (ASNS). Individual daily phthalate intakes were calculated from the measured urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations. Since phthalates can elicit dose-additive effects when administered as a mixture, the authors also used a dose-addition approach to calculate a hazard index taking into account interactions among mixture components. The authors found children’s exposure to the majority of investigated phthalates to be greater than that of adults. Comparison of individual daily intakes to different acceptable exposure levels has, however, revealed only a few exceedances (n=7) in the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI). Those occurred mainly among the youngest children for the food contact substances di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP, CAS 84-69-5), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP, CAS 84-74-2) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7). The daily intakes calculated for the study population were found to be lower than those of other countries, possibly due to differences in nutrition and lifestyle. Since the samples were collected in 2011, the results might also reflect the decreasing use of DnBP and DEHP in Europe due to regulatory restrictions, the authors suggest. The execution of a cumulative risk assessment for combined phthalate exposure showed cause for concern mainly for children and in rare cases for adults. The authors conclude that phthalate exposure seems to have decreased in previous years. However, concerns about cumulative effects remain, especially as children are not only exposed to phthalates but also to other chemicals with anti-androgenic properties, such as certain personal care product ingredients (e.g., parabens).

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Hartmann, C. et al. (2015). “Human biomonitoring of phthalate exposure in Austrian children and adults and cumulative risk assessment.International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health (published online April 21, 2015).