Migration of phthalates from plastic products to model solutions

Coll Antropol. 2003:27 Suppl 1:23-30.


The aim of this investigation was to determine the level and rate of migration of phthalates, compounds used as plastic softeners, from various plastic products into model solutions and to assess the possible adverse effects of the phthalate amounts released on human health, thus to contribute to harmonization of the opinions on the maximal allowed human exposure to these compounds through environmental factors. Nine specimens of plastic toys, 16 specimens of plastic food containers and 10 specimens of other plastic consumer goods were analyzed. The specimens of plastic products were submitted to 10-day action of model solutions. Three model solutions were used: distilled water, 10% ethyl alcohol, and 3% acetic acid. Identification and quantification of the phthalates released were performed by the method of gas chromatography on days 1, 5 and 10 of exposure, at a detection limit of 0.005 microgram/kg. On day 10, the highest level of released phthalates (54.5 mg/kg) was measured in distilled water, followed by 44.4 mg/kg in 3% acetic acid and 32.3 mg/kg in 10% ethyl alcohol. According to plastic product categories, the highest pooled level of phthalates released to all three solutions was recorded for plastic toys (66.2 mg/kg), followed by food containers (37.6 mg/kg) and other consumer goods (27.4 mg/kg). According to plastic product categories, toys showed the most rapid phthalate release, with 65.4% (43.3 of 66.2 mg/kg) of the pooled level of phthalates released to all three solutions recorded on day 1. As indicated by the study results, the levels of phthalates released would not present a hazard for human health, not even over a prolonged period of time. However, data on the highest and fastest pooled phthalate release from plastic toys, and this especially to distilled water simulating salivary action, point to the need of continuous evaluation and amendments of the legislation on phthalates in consumer goods.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Household Products*
  • Phthalic Acids / chemistry*
  • Plasticizers / chemistry*


  • Phthalic Acids
  • Plasticizers