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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2010 Mar;213(2):124-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2009.12.002. Epub 2010 Jan 6.

Higher blood concentrations of synthetic musks in women above fifty years than in younger women.

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  • 1Institute of Environmental Health, Centre for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.


Synthetic musk compounds are widely used as fragrance ingredients in many consumer products. Little is known about their accumulation in humans and especially in older persons. In this study, we determined concentrations of 11 synthetic musks in women above fifty years and compared the results with earlier results from samples of young females. Blood was taken from 53 women above 50 years of age, visiting outpatients of the Department of Angiology at the Hanusch-Krankenhaus in Vienna, Austria. The used analytical methods consist of an extraction and clean-up step and a chromatographic analysis by GC/MS. Tonalide-D3 was used as recovery standard in all samples. Hexachlorobenzene (13)C(6) was used as internal standard. Study participants also completed a questionnaire on the use of cosmetics, about nutrition and other life-style aspects. The two substances which could be detected in higher percentages of the blood plasma samples were galaxolide (89 percent, maximum concentration 6900 ng/L) and musk xylene (62 percent, maximum concentration 190 ng/L). Regression analysis revealed a significant association of galaxolide concentration with frequent use of perfumes, deodorants and shampoos. Frequent use of soaps and fabric softener was associated with higher plasma concentrations of musk xylene. Nutrition habits, skin type, body mass index or surface area were not related to plasma concentration of these musk compounds. From the study group investigated older persons showed higher plasma concentrations. These findings could be due to the higher use of lotions and crèmes on face and hands and a more frequent use of skin care products because older persons reported more frequently dry skin. In addition, physiological aging related changes might be responsible for higher dermal absorption of synthetic musks. These results indicate that more focus on aging tissues is needed.

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