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    Restrictions on the use of legacy phthalate esters (PEs) as plasticizer chemicals in several consumer products has led to the increased use of alternative plasticizers (APs), such as di-(iso-nonyl)-cyclohexane-1,2-dicarboxylate (DINCH) and di-(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DEHTP). In the fourth cycle of the Flemish Environment and Health Study (FLEHS IV, 2016-2020), we monitored exposure to seven PEs (diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP, di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), and di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP))and three APs (DINCH, DEHTP, and di-(2-ethylhexyl) adipate (DEHA)) by measuring multiple biomarkers in urine of 416 adolescents from Flanders, Belgium (14-15 years old). The reference values show that exposure to PEs is still widespread, although levels of several PE metabolites (e.g., sum of DEHP metabolites, mono-normal-butyl phthalate (MnBP) and mono-benzyl phthalate (MBzP)) have decreased significantly compared to previous human biomonitoring cycles (2003-2018). On the other hand, metabolites of DINCH and DEHTP were detected in practically every participant. Concentrations of AP exposure biomarkers in urine were generally lower than PE metabolites, but calculations of estimated daily intakes (EDIs) showed that exposure to DINCH and DEHTP can be considerable. However, preliminary risk assessment showed that none of the EDI or urinary exposure levels of APs exceeded the available health-based guidance values, while a very low number of participants had levels of MiBP and MnBP exceeding the HBM value. Several significant determinants of exposure could be identified from multiple regression models: the presence of building materials containing PVC, ventilation habits, socio-economic status and season were all associated with PE and AP biomarker levels. Cumulatively, the results of FLEHS IV show that adolescents in Flanders, Belgium, are exposed to a wide range of plasticizer chemicals. Close monitoring over the last decade showed that the exposure levels of restricted PEs have decreased, while newer APs are now frequently detected in humans. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Michiel Bastiaensen, Celine Gys, Ann Colles, Govindan Malarvannan, Veerle Verheyen, Gudrun Koppen, Eva Govarts, Liesbeth Bruckers, Bert Morrens, Carmen Franken, Elly Den Hond, Greet Schoeters, Adrian Covaci. Biomarkers of phthalates and alternative plasticizers in the Flemish Environment and Health Study (FLEHS IV): Time trends and exposure assessment. Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987). 2021 May 01;276:116724

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    PMID: 33631684

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