Phthalates residues in plastic bottled waters

J Toxicol Sci. 2011 Aug;36(4):469-78. doi: 10.2131/jts.36.469.


This study was conducted to determine the presence of phthalates in 10 different brands of bottled water available in Saudi markets and stored under different conditions. Dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethylphthalate (DEP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) and diethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP) were measured by headspace solid-phase microextraction followed by gas chromatography- mass spectrometer detector. Most of these phthalates were detected in the selected bottled water sample that might be either leached from the plastic packaging materials or contamination during bottling processes. Bottled waters stored at 4°C contained higher levels of DMP, DEP, BBP and DEHP than those stored at room temperature and outdoors. On the other hand, the levels of DMP, DEP and BBP were significantly lower in bottled waters stored at room temperature than those outdoor. It seems that temperature and sunlight play a role in the degradation of phthalates within time. The levels of BBP were the highest at 4°C storage (4.592 ± 3.081 µg/l; range: 1.194-21.128 µg/l) and approximately 76% of the bottled waters had BBP above the limit of quantification (LOQ) of 0.994 µg/l. Apart from DEHP (< 6 µg/l), there are not current legislations for other phthalates. Regardless of storage conditions, all our samples did not exceed the maximum established limit of DEHP. Although, the levels of phthalates in tested bottled waters were low, one should not dismiss that these chemicals may cause endocrine disruption through several mechanisms, especially to potentially vulnerable populations such as infants and pregnant women. Saudi Arabia ranks 12 in bottled water consumption (88 L per capita in 2004) among the 71 reported countries. With this high consumption, a quality assurance scheme for residue monitoring in water is quite important. Although, one cannot avoid phthalates contamination in bottled waters due to manufacturing process but at least special care should be taken regarding their storage conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Drinking Water / chemistry*
  • Drinking Water / standards*
  • Food Packaging
  • Food Storage
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Hot Temperature
  • Phthalic Acids / analysis*
  • Quality Control
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Solid Phase Microextraction
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Drinking Water
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical