Exposure patterns of UV filters, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, organochlor pesticides, PBDEs, and PCBs in human milk: correlation of UV filters with use of cosmetics

Chemosphere. 2010 Nov;81(10):1171-83. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.09.079. Epub 2010 Oct 27.


In order to assess potential risks of exposure to environmental chemicals, more information on concomitant exposure to different chemicals is needed. We present data on chemicals in human milk of a cohort study (2004, 2005, 2006) of 54 mother/child pairs, where for the first time, cosmetic UV filters, synthetic musks, parabens and phthalate metabolites were analyzed in the same sample along with persistent organochlor pollutants (POPs), i.e., organochlor pesticides and metabolites, polybrominated diphenylethers and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The two groups of chemicals exhibited different exposure patterns. Six out of seven PCB congeners and a majority of pesticides were present in all milk samples, with significant correlations between certain PCB congener and pesticide levels, whereas the cosmetic-derived compounds, UV filters, parabens and synthetic musks, exhibited a more variable exposure pattern with inter-individual differences. UV filters were present in 85.2% of milk samples, in the range of PCB levels. Comparison with a questionnaire revealed a significant correlation between use of products containing UV filters and their presence in milk for two frequently used and detected UV filters, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and octocrylene, and for the whole group of UV filters. Concentrations of PCBs and organochlor pesticides were within ranges seen in Western and Southern European countries. For several POPs, mean and/or maximum daily intake calculated from individual concentrations was above recent US EPA reference dose values. Our data emphasize the need for analyses of complex mixtures to obtain more information on inter-individual and temporal variability of human exposure to different types of chemicals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / metabolism
  • Hydrocarbons, Halogenated / metabolism
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Organic Chemicals / metabolism*
  • Parabens / metabolism
  • Perfume / metabolism
  • Pesticides / metabolism
  • Phthalic Acids / metabolism
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism
  • Sunscreening Agents / metabolism
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Cosmetics
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Hydrocarbons, Halogenated
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Parabens
  • Perfume
  • Pesticides
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • phthalic acid
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls