Occurrence and human exposure of parabens and their chlorinated derivatives in swimming pools

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2015 Nov;22(22):17987-97. doi: 10.1007/s11356-015-5050-1. Epub 2015 Jul 15.


As an emerging group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, parabens have attracted growing attention due to their potential effects on human health. In the present study, the occurrence and distribution of eight parabens, four chlorinated parabens, and their common hydrolysis product, p-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA), were investigated in 39 swimming pools in Beijing, China. Methyl paraben and propyl paraben were the predominant compounds in swimming pools, accounting for 91.2 % of the total parabens. It is noteworthy that octyl paraben, a paraben with longer chain, was firstly detected in this study. There were several factors affecting the levels of parabens among the 39 swimming pools. The concentrations of parabens and chlorinated derivatives detected in indoor pools (144 ng L(-1)) were roughly 20-fold higher than those in outdoor pools (6.78 ng L(-1)). Hotel pools appear to present higher level of target compounds (361 ng L(-1)) than that in health club (228 ng L(-1)), municipal (130 ng L(-1)), school (75.6 ng L(-1)), and community pools (63.0 ng L(-1)). Moreover, the level of these compounds in pools during weekends (174 ng L(-1)) was much higher than that during weekdays (52.3 ng L(-1)). The dynamics of target compounds were also investigated to provide a general trend of the level of parabens in a school indoor swimming pool during a 14-week period. Human exposure assessment was conducted to estimate the potential risk of exposure to parabens and their chlorinated derivatives in swimming pools. Considering the total exposure dose of multiple parabens, human exposure to parabens from the water of swimming pools is negligible. However, the threat of these parabens to children in swimming pool should be concerned.

Keywords: Chlorinated parabens; Human exposure assessment; PHBA; Parabens; Swimming pool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Beijing
  • Child
  • Endocrine Disruptors / analysis
  • Endocrine Disruptors / chemistry
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Halogenation*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Parabens / analysis*
  • Parabens / chemistry*
  • Swimming Pools*
  • Water / chemistry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Parabens
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water