Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2012 Jul;120(7):935-43.
doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104052. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products

Affiliations
Free PMC article

Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products

Robin E Dodson et al. Environ Health Perspect. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Laboratory and human studies raise concerns about endocrine disruption and asthma resulting from exposure to chemicals in consumer products. Limited labeling or testing information is available to evaluate products as exposure sources.

Objectives: We analytically quantified endocrine disruptors and asthma-related chemicals in a range of cosmetics, personal care products, cleaners, sunscreens, and vinyl products. We also evaluated whether product labels provide information that can be used to select products without these chemicals.

Methods: We selected 213 commercial products representing 50 product types. We tested 42 composited samples of high-market-share products, and we tested 43 alternative products identified using criteria expected to minimize target compounds. Analytes included parabens, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan, ethanolamines, alkylphenols, fragrances, glycol ethers, cyclosiloxanes, and ultraviolet (UV) filters.

Results: We detected 55 compounds, indicating a wide range of exposures from common products. Vinyl products contained > 10% bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and could be an important source of DEHP in homes. In other products, the highest concentrations and numbers of detects were in the fragranced products (e.g., perfume, air fresheners, and dryer sheets) and in sunscreens. Some products that did not contain the well-known endocrine-disrupting phthalates contained other less-studied phthalates (dicyclohexyl phthalate, diisononyl phthalate, and di-n-propyl phthalate; also endocrine-disrupting compounds), suggesting a substitution. Many detected chemicals were not listed on product labels.

Conclusions: Common products contain complex mixtures of EDCs and asthma-related compounds. Toxicological studies of these mixtures are needed to understand their biological activity. Regarding epidemiology, our findings raise concern about potential confounding from co-occurring chemicals and misclassification due to variability in product composition. Consumers should be able to avoid some target chemicals-synthetic fragrances, BPA, and regulated active ingredients-using purchasing criteria. More complete product labeling would enable consumers to avoid the rest of the target chemicals.

Conflict of interest statement

R.E.D., L.J.S., L.J.P., J.G.B., and R.A.R. are or were previously employed at Silent Spring Institute, a scientific research organization dedicated to studying environmental factors in women’s health. The Institute is a 501(c)3 public charity funded by federal grants and contracts, foundation grants, and private donations, including those from breast cancer organizations. M.N. is employed by Battelle Memorial Institute, and L.J.S. is currently employed by Clear Current, LLC. The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Concentrations of target compounds (left) in conventional consumer products (bottom) by product type. Compounds are grouped by chemical class, with natural and synthetic fragrances distinguished by a dashed horizontal line within the figure. Numbers in parentheses after product type indicate number of products in the composite. Numbers at the top of the figure indicate the number of chemicals detected in each product type; numbers on the right indicate the number of products containing each compound. The first 27 product types (left of the solid vertical line) and the last product type (sunscreen) are also shown in Figure 2, but the remaining product types differ.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Concentrations of target compounds (left) in “alternative” consumer products (bottom) by product type. Compounds are grouped by chemical class, with natural and synthetic fragrances distinguished by a dashed horizontal line in the figure. Numbers at the top of the figure indicate the number of chemicals detected in each product type; numbers on the right indicate the number of products containing each compound. The first 27 product types (left of the solid vertical line) and the last product type (sunscreen) are also shown in Figure 1, but the remaining product types differ.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 90 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. Adolfsson-Erici M, Pettersson M, Parkkonen J, Sturve J. Triclosan, a commonly used bactericide found in human milk and in the aquatic environment in Sweden. Chemosphere. 2002;46(9–10):1485–1489. - PubMed
    1. Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics. Description of the AOEC Exposure Code System. 2010. Available: http://www.aoecdata.org/ [accessed 17 January 2012]
    1. Bickers DR, Calow P, Greim HA, Hanifin JM, Rogers AE, Saurat JH, et al. The safety assessment of fragrance materials. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2003;37(2):218–273. - PubMed
    1. Bitsch N, Dudas C, Körner W, Failing K, Biselli S, Rimkus G, et al. Estrogenic activity of musk fragrances detected by the E-Screen assay using human MCF-7 cells. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2002;43:257–264. - PubMed
    1. Boberg J, Christiansen S, Axelstad M, Kledal TS, Vinggaard AM, Dalgaard M, et al. Reproductive and behavioral effects of diisononyl phthalate (DINP) in perinatally exposed rats. Reprod Toxicol. 2011;31(2):200–209. - PubMed

Publication types

MeSH terms

Feedback