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Migration of phthalates from soft PVC packaging into shower and bath gels and assessment of consumer risk

Migration von Phthalaten aus Weich-PVC-Behältern in Dusch- und Badegele und Risikobewertung für die Verbraucher

Abstract

Phthalates are used as plasticizers in many commodities and materials. Therefore, they are found everywhere as contaminants in food and in environmental samples. Due to their potential for developmental and reproductive toxicity, some congeners pose a health risk for consumers and their use is legally restricted with bans and limits. This, however, applies only partly to their usage in cosmetics, toys and packaging materials. Phthalates used as plasticizers in cosmetic packaging could be a previously unknown source of exposure for consumers. In market surveys of the state laboratory of Basel-City, conspicuously high levels of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and di-iso-nonyl phthalate (DINP) were found in shower and bath gels packed in soft PVC shaped as animals or fruits. The concentrations found ranged from 0.02 to 1.3%. It could be shown that concentrations increased significantly during storage. It can therefore be assumed that the phthalates found migrated from the packaging into the gels. The estimated exposure of adults and children to DEHP and DINP of 3.5 and 4.6 μg/kg bw/day, respectively, which may result when using the tested gels does not pose a health risk for the consumer (exposure value below TDI). Regarding the high background contamination levels with phthalates in other sources, exposure from cosmetics should be kept as low as possible. The establishment of limits for phthalates in cosmetics is discussed.

Zusammenfassung

Phthalate werden als Weichmacher in einer Vielzahl von Konsumprodukten und Materialien verwendet. Dementsprechend werden sie heute überall in Lebensmitteln und als Umweltkontaminanten gefunden. Aufgrund ihres entwicklungs- und reproduktionstoxischen Potentials stellen einzelne Vertreter ein gesundheitliches Risiko für den Konsumenten dar. Trotzdem ist die Verwendung von Phthalaten in Kosmetika, Spielzeug und Verpackungsmaterialien heute nur teilweise geregelt. Einzelne Vertreter sind aufgrund ihres toxischen Potentials als Inhaltsstoffe verboten oder nur beschränkt einsetzbar. Phthalate als Weichmacher in Verpackungen von Kosmetika sind mögliche Quellen einer bislang nicht in Betracht gezogenen Exposition des Konsumenten. In Untersuchungen des kantonalen Laboratoriums Basel-Stadt wurden in Dusch- und Badegelen, welche in Weich-PVC-Behältern in Form von Tieren oder Früchten verpackt sind, auffallend hohe Gehalte an Diethylhexylphthalat (DEHP) und Diisononylphthalat (DINP) gemessen. Die gefundenen Konzentrationen lagen zwischen 0.02 und 1.3%. Es konnte gezeigt werden, dass die Gehalte während der Lagerung deutlich anstiegen, weshalb davon auszugehen ist, dass die gefundenen Phthalate aus den Weich-PVC-Verpackungen ins kosmetische Produkt migriert sind. Die geschätzte Exposition mit DEHP und DINP von Erwachsenen und Kindern von 3.5 resp. 4.6 μg/kg KG/Tag, die sich durch die Anwendung der untersuchten Dusch- und Badegele ergeben kann, stellt kein gesundheitliches Risiko für die Anwender dar (Exposition unter TDI). Angesichts der hohen Hintergrundbelastung mit Phthalaten aus anderen Quellen sollte die Belastung durch Kosmetika jedoch so gering wie möglich sein, weshalb die Festlegung von Höchstkonzentrationen für Phthalate in Kosmetika diskutiert wird.

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Abbreviations

DEHP:

Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

DINP:

Di-iso-nonyl phthalate

TDI:

Tolerable daily intake

NOAEL:

No observed adverse effect level

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Acknowledgments

We thank Renate Krätke (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Germany) and Carole Meylan-Gonin (Federal Office of Public Health, Switzerland) for their valuable contributions to the overview on cosmetics regulations. We would also like to thank the employees of the state laboratory of Basel-City for participating as test persons.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Judith P. Amberg-Müller.

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Amberg-Müller, J.P., Hauri, U., Schlegel, U. et al. Migration of phthalates from soft PVC packaging into shower and bath gels and assessment of consumer risk. J. Verbr. Lebensm. 5, 429–442 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00003-010-0620-0

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Keywords

  • Phthalates
  • Consumer products
  • Analysis
  • Plasticizers
  • Risk assessment
  • Exposure
  • Regulation