Phthalate concentrations and dietary exposure from food purchased in New York state

Arnold Schecter, Matthew Lorber, Ying Guo, Qian Wu, Se Hun Yun, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Madeline Hommel, Nadia Imran, Linda S. Hynan, Dunlei Cheng, Justin A. Colacino, Linda S. Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

245 Scopus citations


Background: Phthalates have been found in many personal care and industrial products, but have not previously been reported in food purchased in the United States. Phthalates are ubiquitous synthetic compounds and therefore difficult to measure in foods containing trace levels. Phthalates have been associated with endocrine disruption and developmental alteration. Objectives: Our goals were to report concentrations of phthalates in U.S. food for the first time, specifically, nine phthalates in 72 individual food samples purchased in Albany, New York, and to compare these findings with other countries and estimate dietary phthalate intake. Methods: A convenience sample of commonly consumed foods was purchased from New York supermarkets. Methods were developed to analyze these foods using gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. Dietary intakes of phthalates were estimated as the product of the food consumption rate and concentration of phthalates in that food. Results: The range of detection frequency of individual phthalates varied from 6% for dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP) to 74% for di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). DEHP concentrations were the highest of the phthalates measured in all foods except beef [where di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) was the highest phthalate found], with pork having the highest estimated mean concentration of any food group (mean 300 ng/g; maximum, 1,158 ng/g). Estimated mean adult intakes ranged from 0.004 μg/kg/day for dimethyl phthalate (DMP) to 0.673 μg/kg/day for DEHP. Conclusions: Phthalates are widely present in U.S. foods. While estimated intakes for individual phthalates in this study were more than an order of magnitude lower than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reference doses, cumulative exposure to phthalates is of concern and a more representataive survey of U.S. foods is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-479
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • BBZP
  • DEHP
  • DEP
  • DiBP
  • Market basket survey
  • Phthalate exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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