Occurrence of legacy and alternative plasticizers in indoor dust from various EU countries and implications for human exposure via dust ingestion and dermal absorption

Christina Christia*, Giulia Poma, Stuart Harrad, Cynthia A. de Wit, Ylva Sjostrom, Pim Leonards, Marja Lamoree, Adrian Covaci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Plasticizers are a category of chemicals extensively used in consumer products and, consequently, their presence is ubiquitous in the indoor environment. In the present study, an analytical method has been developed for the quantification of plasticizers (7 legacy phthalate esters (LPEs) and 14 alternative plasticizers (APs)) in indoor floor dust based on ultrasonic and vortex extraction, Florisil fractionation and GC-(EI)-MS analysis. Dust samples (n = 54) were collected from homes, offices, and daycare centers from different EU countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden). Method LOQs ranged from 0.2 to 5 μg/g. Tri-n-hexyl trimellitate (THTM) was not detected in any sample, whereas dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diphenyl phthalate and acetyl triethyl citrate (ATEC) were detected only in 6, 2 and 1 out of 54 samples, respectively. The highest concentrations of plasticizers were measured in Swedish offices, at a mean concentration of total plasticizers of 1800 μg/g, followed by Swedish daycare centers at 1200 and 670 μg/g for winter and spring sampling, respectively. Generally, the contribution of APs was slightly higher than for LPEs for all indoor environments (mean contribution 60% and 40%, respectively based on contributions per indoor environment). For the APs, main contributors were DINP in Belgian homes (28%), Swedish offices (60%), Swedish daycare centers (48%), and Dutch offices (31%) and DEHT in Belgian (28%), Irish (40%) and Dutch homes (37%) of total APs. The predominant LPE was bis-2-ethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) with a mean contribution varying from 60% to 85% of total LPEs. Human exposure was evaluated for dust ingestion and dermal absorption using hazard quotients (HQs) of plasticizers (ratio between average daily doses and the reference dose). None of the HQs of plasticizers exceeded 1, meaning that the risk for adverse human health effects from these plasticizers via dust ingestion and dermal absorption is unlikely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-212
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date22 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


The authors would like to thank the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) for the support of the Shine project ( LRI-B17 ) and all dust sample donors. Drs. Christina Christia acknowledges a doctoral fellowship BOF DOCPRO 3 and Dr. Giulia Poma acknowledges a post-doctoral fellowship from the University of Antwerp . We thank Dr. Ulla Sellström (Stockholm University) for sampling the Swedish offices and Ms. Nina Wemken and Dr. Marie Coggins (National University of Ireland Galway) for sampling Irish homes. Appendix A

FundersFunder number
European Chemical Industry CouncilLRI-B17
Universiteit Antwerpen


    • Human exposure
    • Indoor dust
    • Phthalates
    • Plasticizers


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