Migration of nonylphenol from plastic containers to water and a milk surrogate

J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Apr 7;52(7):2016-20. doi: 10.1021/jf0345696.


Nonylphenol (NP) is used as an antioxidant and plasticizer in some plastic products. After the discovery of its endocrine-disrupting potential, concern over human exposure to this chemical has increased. Recently, a group in Germany estimated the average daily intake of NP from food (7.5 microg/day), excluding water. In the present study, NP, octylphenol (OP), and their respective ethoxylates (1-5) were measured in spring water bottled in three different types of plastic (HDPE, PET, and PVC). NP was present in water from HDPE and PVC containers, at 180 and 300 ng/L respectively, which represent 4.8% and 8% of the value calculated by the German group assuming a consumption of 2 L of water per day. OP was found in water from HDPE extracts in lower amounts, 12 ng/L, and neither the NP- nor the OP-ethoxylates were detected in any of the samples. Attempts to measure these compounds in tap water were unsuccessful, probably because reaction with residual chlorine results in the formation of chlorinated byproducts. Migration of NP from HDPE containers to a milk surrogate was also evaluated; results indicate that the amounts of NP leaching into milk might be similar to those in bottled water.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Packaging*
  • Humans
  • Milk Substitutes / chemistry*
  • Phenols / chemistry*
  • Plastics / chemistry*
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Phenols
  • Plastics
  • Water
  • nonylphenol