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Assessment of critical exposure pathways

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Human exposure to phthalate esters for five different age classes is evaluated for the following routes of exposure: inhalation of air (indoors and outdoors), ingestion of drinking water, incidental ingestion of soil, ingestion of dust (indoors), and ingestion of food. Exposure is estimated for: dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP), and bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). For the five phthalate esters evaluated, the median estimated daily intake is highest for toddlers and lowest for infants. For all five phthalates evaluated (except BBP exposure for formula-fed infants), food represents the most important source of exposure. The food categories contributing most to exposure depend upon the phthalate ester and the age group evaluated. Ingestion of dust and inhalation of indoor air represent the most important non-food sources of exposure to phthalate esters. Detection limits have a large influence on the estimated intakes. A comparison of the results of the present study with studies that back-calculate phthalate ester intake from urinary metabolite data suggests that exposure in the present study may be overestimated for DEHP, BBP, and DBP due to changes in food processing over time (many of the measured concentrations of phthalates in food are not recent), loss of phthalates due to cooking has not been accounted for in the present study, and some measured concentrations in food may be elevated due to background contamination. Conversely, exposure to DEP is underestimated in the present study because direct exposure to personal care products is not included. The overestimate of exposure to BBP and DBP from food, referred to above, may be partially cancelled by the lack of inclusion of personal care products.




Clark, K., Cousins, I. T., & MacKay, D. (2003). Assessment of critical exposure pathways. In Handbook of Environmental Chemistry (Vol. 3, pp. 227–262). Springer Verlag.

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