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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Oct 20;49(20):12071-9. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b03601. Epub 2015 Oct 2.

Elevated Accumulation of Parabens and their Metabolites in Marine Mammals from the United States Coastal Waters.

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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 , Albany, New York 12201, United States.
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, School of Agriculture Science, Oregon State University , Corvallis, Oregon 97331, United States.
Biochemistry Department, Faculty of Science and Experimental Biochemistry Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University , Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.


The widespread exposure of humans to parabens present in personal care products is well-known. Nevertheless, little is known about the accumulation of parabens in marine organisms. In this study, six parabens and four common metabolites of parabens were measured in 121 tissue samples from eight species of marine mammals collected along the coastal waters of Florida, California, Washington, and Alaska. Methyl paraben (MeP) was the predominant compound found in the majority of the marine mammal tissues analyzed, and the highest concentration found was 865 ng/g (wet weight [wet wt]) in the livers of bottlenose dolphins from Sarasota Bay, FL. 4-Hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HB) was the predominant paraben metabolite found in all tissue samples. The measured concentrations of 4-HB were on the order of hundreds to thousands of ng/g tissue, and these values are some of the highest ever reported in the literature. MeP and 4-HB concentrations showed a significant positive correlation (p < 0.05), which suggested a common source of exposure to these compounds in marine mammals. Trace concentrations of MeP and 4-HB were found in the livers of polar bears from the Chuckchi Sea and Beaufort Sea, which suggested widespread distribution of MeP and 4-HB in the oceanic environment.

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