Researchers in Spain have analysed waste water to calculate levels of exposure to phthalates in individuals. The calculations showed that levels of four types of phthalate exceeded safe daily limits in some of the sites studied, with levels of exposure in children being of particular concern. Using the results of waste-water analysis in this way can identify areas where action may need to be taken to lower exposure.
2017 Study Abstract
This study proposes the monitoring of phthalate metabolites in wastewater as a nonintrusive and economic alternative to urine analysis for estimating human exposure to phthalates. To this end, a solid-phase extraction-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method was developed, allowing for the determination of eight phthalate metabolites in wastewater (limits of quantification between 0.5 and 32 ng L-1). The analysis of samples from the NW region of Spain showed that these substances occur in raw wastewater up to ca. 1.6 μg L-1 and in treated wastewater up to ca. 1 μg L-1. Concentrations in raw wastewater were converted into levels of exposure to six phthalate diesters. For two of them, these levels were always below the daily exposure thresholds recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority. For the other four, however, estimates of exposure surpassed such a threshold (especially the toddler threshold) in some cases, highlighting the significance of the exposure to phthalates in children. Finally, concentrations in wastewater were also used to estimate metabolite concentrations in urine, providing a reasonable concordance between our results and the data obtained in two previous biomonitoring studies.
- Wastewater-Based Epidemiology as a New Tool for Estimating Population Exposure to Phthalate Plasticizers, Environmental science & technology, PMID: 28240866, 2017 Apr.
- Waste-water analysis highlights exposure to endocrine-disrupting phthalate plasticisers, Science for Environment Policy, Issue 500, 11 January 2018.
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