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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Christina Christia
  • Giulia Poma
  • Cynthia A. De Wit
  • Ylva Sjostrom
  • Pim Leonards
  • Marja Lamoree
  • Adrian Covaci

Colleges, School and Institutes


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 1,800 μg/g, followed by Swedish daycare centers at 1,200 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
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date22 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2018


  • phthalates, plasticizers, indoor dust, human exposure

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