Urinary and air phthalate concentrations and self-reported use of personal care products among minority pregnant women in New York City

Diethyl phthalate (DEP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) are used extensively in personal care products, including fragrances (DEP) and nail polish (DnBP). Between May 2003 and July 2006, we gathered questionnaire data on use of 7 product categories (deodorant, perfume, hair spray, hair gel, nail polish/polish remover, liquid soap/body wash, lotion/mist) over 48 hours during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy from 186 inner-city women. A 48-hour personal air sample was collected and analyzed for DEP and DnBP; a maternal spot urine sample was collected and analyzed for their monoester metabolites, monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP), respectively. Ninety-seven percent of air samples and 84% of urine samples were collected within ±2 days of the questionnaire. During the 48 hours, 41% of women reported perfume use and 10% reported nail polish/polish remover use. In adjusted analyses, no association was seen between nail product use and air DnBP or urine MnBP concentrations. Women reporting perfume use had 2.3 times higher (95% CI 1.6, 3.3) urinary MEP concentrations. Personal air DEP increased 7% for each 25% increase in a composite indicator of the 6 other product categories (p<0.05) but was not associated with perfume use. Air DEP was correlated with urine MEP concentrations only among non-perfume users (r=0.51, p<0.001). Results suggest that perfume use is a significant source of DEP exposure.

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