Parabens in urine, serum and seminal plasma from healthy Danish men determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. May-Jun 2011;21(3):262-71. doi: 10.1038/jes.2010.6. Epub 2010 Mar 10.


Parabens are used as anti-microbial preservatives in a range of consumer products, especially in cosmetics. In vitro and animal studies have shown weak estrogenic and other endocrine disrupting effects of parabens, including reduced testosterone levels in exposed male rats. The knowledge of paraben exposure, distribution and excretion in humans is limited. In this study we determined the concentration of five parabens; methyl-, ethyl-, n-propyl-, n-butyl- and benzylparaben in urine, serum and seminal plasma samples from 60 healthy Danish men. To conduct the study a sensitive and specific method using LC-MS/MS for simultaneous determination of the five parabens was developed for all three different matrices. Highest concentrations of the parabens were found in urine, wherein methyl-, ethyl-, n-propyl- and n-butyl parabens were measurable in 98%, 80%, 98% and 83% of the men, respectively. Benzyl paraben was only measurable in urine from 7% of the men. Methyl- and n-propyl parabens were also measurable in the majority of serum and seminal plasma samples, whereas the other parabens could only be detected in some of the samples. In all the three matrices significant correlations between the parabens were seen. Furthermore, urinary paraben concentrations correlate to the paraben concentrations in both serum and seminal plasma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Limit of Detection
  • Male
  • Parabens / metabolism*
  • Quality Control
  • Reference Standards
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Semen / metabolism*
  • Solid Phase Extraction
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Parabens