Personal care product use and urinary levels of phthalate metabolites in Mexican women

Environ Int. 2011 Jul;37(5):867-71. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2011.02.014. Epub 2011 Mar 22.


Sources of phthalates other than Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) related products are scarcely documented in Mexico. The objective of our study was to explore the association between urinary levels of nine phthalate metabolites and the use of personal care products. Subjects included 108 women who participated as controls in an ongoing population-based case-control study of environmental factors and genetic susceptibility to breast cancer in northern Mexico. Direct interviews were performed to inquire about sociodemographic characteristics, reproductive history, use of personal care products, and diet. Phthalate metabolites measured in urine by high performance liquid chromatography-isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry were monoethyl phthalate (MEP), monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP), mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP), mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP), mono-3-carboxypropyl phthalate (MCPP) as well as mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP), mono-2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl phthalate (MEOHP), mono-2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl phthalate (MEHHP), mono-2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl phthalate (MECPP) that are metabolites of di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). Detectable urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites varied from 75% (MEHP) to 100% (MEP, MBP, MEOHP, MEHHP and MECPP). Medians of urinary concentrations of some phthalate metabolites were significantly higher among users of the following personal care products compared to nonusers: body lotion (MEHHP, MECPP and sum of DEHP metabolites (ΣDEHP)), deodorant (MEHP and ΣDEHP), perfume (MiBP), anti-aging facial cream (MEP, MBP and MCPP) and bottled water (MCPP, MEHHP and MEOHP). Urinary concentrations of MEP showed a positive relationship with the number of personal care products used. Our results suggest that the use of some personal care products contributes to phthalate body burden that deserves attention due to its potential health impact.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cosmetics / chemistry
  • Cosmetics / metabolism*
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / analogs & derivatives
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / urine
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Phthalic Acids / urine*
  • Risk Factors
  • Soaps / chemistry
  • Soaps / metabolism*


  • Cosmetics
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Soaps
  • mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate
  • mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl)phthalate
  • 2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl phthalate
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate
  • mono-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate
  • monobutyl phthalate