A new study published online on December 11, 2014 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology reports on phthalate exposure of Chinese children. China is a large market in the phthalate production and consumption. To date, however, information about phthalate exposure in children is very limited. Wang and colleagues therefore analyzed 13 metabolites of 9 phthalates in urine of 782 Chinese school children aged 8-11 years. Based on the measured urinary metabolite level, the authors estimated the daily intake for six phthalates and performed a risk assessment. They considered both single phthalate and cumulative phthalate exposure, as several of the investigated phthalates have a similar mechanism of action. A total of 11 metabolites were found in at least 85% of the urine samples. The results indicate that Chinese children were mainly exposed to the following parent compounds: di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP, CAS 84-74-2), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP, CAS 84-69-5) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7). All three phthalates are known to be used in food contact materials (FCMs). At least one fifth of the children showed a cumulative risk of phthalate exposure for anti-androgenic effects. In particular, children from manufacturing-intensive regions have an increased risk of cumulative phthalate exposure. Steps are needed to reduce phthalate exposure and hence the potential health risks, especially in the most industrial areas, the authors conclude.

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Wang, B. et al. (2014). “Urinary excretion of phthalate metabolites in school children of China: Implication for cumulative risk assessment of phthalate exposure.Environmental Science & Technology (published online December 11, 2014)