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Environ Int. 2013 Jul;57-58:68-74. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2013.04.001. Epub 2013 May 14.

Occurrence of parabens in foodstuffs from China and its implications for human dietary exposure.

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Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, and Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany, Empire State Plaza, P.O. Box 509, Albany, New York 12201-0509, United States.


Parabens are alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid and are used as antimicrobial preservatives in a range of consumer products, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and foodstuffs. Despite their widespread use, prior to this study, paraben concentrations in foodstuffs from China and human dietary exposure to these chemicals have been unknown. In this study, concentrations of six parabens were determined in 13 categories of food samples (n=282), including cereals and cereal products, meat, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, bean products, fruits, vegetables, cookies, beverages, cooking oils, condiments, and others, collected from nine cities in China. Almost all (detection rate: 99%) food samples contained at least one of the parabens analyzed, and the total concentrations (ΣParabens; sum of six parabens) ranged from below limit of quantification (LOQ) to 2530ng/g fresh weight, with an overall mean value of 39.3ng/g. Methyl paraben (MeP), ethyl paraben (EtP), and propyl paraben (PrP) were the major paraben analogs found in foodstuffs, and these compounds accounted for 59%, 24%, and 10%, respectively, of ΣParaben concentrations. Although the mean concentrations of ΣParabens varied among different categories of food items (from 0.839ng/g in beverages to 100ng/g in vegetables), the concentrations were not statistically significant among the 13 food categories, including canned foodstuffs. Estimated daily intake (EDI) of parabens was based on the measured concentrations in foods and the corresponding daily food ingestion rates. The mean and 95th percentile values for EDI were 1010 and 3040ng/kg body weight (bw)/day for adult men and 1060 and 3170ng/kg bw/day for adult women, respectively.

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