Phthalates in house dust in Chinese urban residences: Concentrations, partition, origin and determinants

Chemosphere. 2022 Jan;286(Pt 2):131703. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.131703. Epub 2021 Jul 29.


Exposure to phthalates poses adverse health impacts to human beings. In this study, we analyzed 7 phthalates in dust samples, which were collected with vacuum cleaner from 40 to 31 residences in Beijing in summer and winter, respectively. The major phthalates (median concentration in the summer and winter, respectively) were DiBP (55 and 40 ng/mg), DnBP (99 and 30 ng/mg) and DEHP (795 and 335 ng/mg). The concentrations were significantly influenced by season and residence time of house dust. The concentrations of phthalates in dust on plastic surfaces were highest, followed by those on wooden and fabric surfaces. The dust-air partition coefficients (Kd) were calculated: the median values were 0.13, 0.02 and 5.62 m3/mg in the summer and 0.06, 0.018 and 0.76 m3/mg in the winter for DiBP, DnBP and DEHP, respectively. A comparison with Kd* at equilibrium state suggested that partition between air and dust deviated from equilibrium state in both seasons. The results also revealed that dust-phthalates in the summer may completely originate from source materials via direct transfer and external physical process; while dust-phthalates in the winter may come from both air (via partition) and source material (via direct transfer and external physical process). The influence of temperature on dust-phthalate concentrations differed by season, owing to different origin of dust-phthalates in two seasons. Polar organic components in dust, which are products of reactions between O3 and unsaturated hydrocarbons in dust, likely played an important role in fate and transport of phthalates. The presence of them resulted in the significant associations between dust-phthalate concentrations and air humidity in the summer. Moreover, the impacts of indoor PM2.5 concentrations, traffic conditions surrounding residence, household lifestyle and number of occupants were also observed. The mechanisms behind those observations were discussed.

Keywords: DEHP; House dust; Indoor air quality; Phthalates.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor* / analysis
  • China
  • Dust / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Humans
  • Phthalic Acids* / analysis


  • Dust
  • Phthalic Acids
  • phthalic acid