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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2007 Jan;210(1):35-42. Epub 2006 Dec 20.

Daily intake of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) by German children -- A comparison of two estimation models based on urinary DEHP metabolite levels.

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  • 1Institute and Outpatient Clinic of Occupational, Social and Enironmental Medicine, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.


Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) is a general-purpose plasticizer for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and has become a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. It is suspected to be an endocrine disrupting/modulating substance in humans. Children are of special concern due to their developmental state. In our study we estimated the daily DEHP intake of 239 children aged 2-14 years by extrapolating from their urinary levels of the DEHP metabolites mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl)phthalate (5OH-MEHP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl)phthalate (5oxo-MEHP) and mono-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (MEHP). We applied two calculation models based upon the volume and the creatinine-related urinary metabolite concentrations. Applying the volume- or the creatinine-based calculation model we determined a median daily DEHP intake of 7.8 or 4.3 microg/kgbody weight (bw)/day and a 95th percentile of 25.2 or 15.2 microg/kgbw/day. Three children (1%) exceeded the value of the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of the European Food Safety Authority of 50 microg/kgbw/day, while 7.5% or 3% (depending on the calculation model) exceeded the reference dose (RfD) of 20 microg/kgbw/day of the US Environmental Protection Agency. In general, DEHP exposure was decreasing with increasing age and boys had higher exposures than girls. Our findings suggest that the majority of the children in the general population is exposed to quantities of DEHP below the TDI and the RfD. However, many children scoop out the preventive limit values to a considerable degree and in individual cases we observed substantial transgressions. Younger children seem to be more severely burdened, which may be due to a higher food consumption related to their bw, mouthing behaviour and/or playing near the ground.

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