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Environ Res. 2019 Nov 22:108951. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.108951. [Epub ahead of print]

Human exposure to trace elements, aromatic amines and formaldehyde in swimsuits: Assessment of the health risks.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, IISPV, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Sant Llorenç 21, 43201, Reus, Catalonia, Spain.
2
Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, IISPV, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Sant Llorenç 21, 43201, Reus, Catalonia, Spain; Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Departament d'Enginyeria Quimica, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Av. Països Catalans 26, 43007, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain. Electronic address: joaquim.rovira@urv.cat.

Abstract

Nowadays, most of the swimsuits are mainly made of artificial fibres, which have interesting properties such as water repellence and fast drying. Swimsuits contain a wide range of additives, which can mean a hazard for the environment and/or human health. In this study, the concentrations of formaldehyde (free and water soluble), 24 aromatic amines, and 28 trace elements (Ag, Al, As, B, Ba, Be, Bi, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mg, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Sc, Se, Sm, Sr, Sn, Tl, Ti, V and Zn) were analysed in 39 swimsuits covering a wide range of materials, colours and brands. Dermal exposure and health risks were assessed for adults (men and women) aged > 18 years old, babies between 2 and < 3 years old, children (boys and girls) between 3 and < 6 years old and 6 and < 11 years old, and teenagers (boys and girls) between 11 and < 16 years old, wearing swimsuits for 4 h or 8 h. Formaldehyde and aromatic amines were below their respective detection limits in all samples (<16 and < 1.5 mg/kg, respectively). Regarding trace elements, Ti showed the highest mean levels (1844 mg/kg), being significantly higher in polyamide (3759 mg/kg) than in polyester (24.1 mg/kg) swimsuits. These high Ti levels were confirmed by environmental scanning electron microscope in a single sample made of polyamide. Increased concentrations of Cr were also observed, but only in polyamide black fabrics, with values ranging from 624 to 932 mg/kg. Non-cancer risks (hazard quotients) derived from the exposure to trace elements were in a safe zone for all analysed trace elements. Furthermore, the carcinogenic risks were evaluated for As, Cr and Pb, exhibiting values below the 10-5 threshold, with the exception of Cr in babies and children-girls. For Ti, health risks could not be calculated due to the lack of information on toxicological data. However, because Ti was the element with the highest concentrations in swimsuits, and taking into account the potential toxicity of TiO2 nanoparticles, further research is needed to assess the migration of this element from fibres to skin.

KEYWORDS:

Aromatic amines; Formaldehyde; Human exposure; Risk assessment; Swimsuits; Trace elements

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