Developing an intervention strategy to reduce phthalate exposure in Taiwanese girls

Sci Total Environ. 2015 Jun 1;517:125-31. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.02.021. Epub 2015 Feb 25.


Children in Taiwan seem to be exposed to higher concentrations of phthalates than do children in Western countries. We developed intervention strategies to reduce the exposure of phthalates in Taiwanese girls. Thirty girls 4-13 years old who had been exposed to high levels of phthalates were selected from prior studies. To reduce their phthalate-exposure sources, we developed seven intervention strategies: handwashing, not using plastic containers, not eating food with a plastic bag/plastic-wrap cover, not microwaving food, not taking nutrition supplements, and reducing use of cosmetics/personal care products. Pre- and post-intervention urine samples were collected during a one-week study. HPLC-MS/MS was used to analyze urinary phthalate metabolites. The dominant urinary phthalate metabolite was mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP), followed by mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP), and mono-(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (MECPP). Post-intervention concentrations of eight urinary phthalate metabolites were significantly lower. Girls in the high-frequency handwashing group had significantly lower urinary MBP (p=0.009) and mono-methyl phthalate (MMP) (p=0.07) than did girls in the low-frequency handwashing group. Girls who drank fewer beverages from plastic cups had significantly lower urinary MBP (p=0.016), MEHHP (p=0.038), and MECPP (p=0.012). Girls who used less shampoo and shower gel also had marginally significantly lower urinary MBP (p=0.06) and mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP) (p=0.06). The intervention strategies that we set up in this study were effective for reducing exposure to phthalates in children. Handwashing and drinking fewer beverages from plastic cups were the most effective strategies for reducing phthalate metabolites in urine, especially MBP and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) metabolites. Education and voluntary self-restraint were useful for reducing the body burden of phthalates.

Keywords: Beverage consumption; Girls; Handwashing; Intervention strategy; Urinary phthalate metabolites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cosmetics
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Environmental Policy*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Phthalic Acids / analysis*
  • Taiwan


  • Cosmetics
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phthalic Acids
  • phthalic acid