1. bookVolume 23 (2016): Issue 2 (June 2016)
Journal Details
First Published
08 Nov 2011
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
access type Open Access

Environmental contamination with phthalates and its impact on living organisms

Published Online: 07 Jul 2016
Page range: 347 - 356
Journal Details
First Published
08 Nov 2011
Publication timeframe
4 times per year

The relevant literature was reviewed to identify phthalate sources in the environment and problems resulting from phthalate contamination of soil and water. Phthalate properties responsible for their toxicity for living organisms were identified, and the effects of phthalates on humans and animals were described. Special emphasis was placed on the effects of exposure to phthalates on human health. Phthalates are readily released into the environment and create a risk of exposure for humans and other living organisms. They are characterized by reproductive toxicity in humans and animals, they can cause infertility and reproductive problems in males. Phthalates are more toxic in young children, which are much more susceptible to phthalate exposure, including fetal life. Phthalates are used in numerous industries, and they are very difficult to eliminate from our daily surroundings.


[1] Ziółkowska A, Wyszkowski M. Toxicity of petroleum substances to microorganisms and plants. Ecol Chem Eng S. 2010;17(1):73-82. http://tchie.uni.opole.pl/ece_s/S17_1/S1_2010.pdf.Search in Google Scholar

[2] Wyszkowska J, Wyszkowski M. Effect of cadmium and magnesium on microbiological activity in soil. Pol J Environ Stud. 2002;11(5):585-591. http://www.pjoes.com/pdf/11.5/585-591.pdf.Search in Google Scholar

[3] Wyszkowski M, Sivitskaya V. Changes in the content of organic carbon and available forms of macronutrients in soil under the influence of soil contamination with fuel oil and application of different substances. J Elem. 2012;17(1):139-148. DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2012.17.1.12.Search in Google Scholar

[4] Wyszkowski M, Wyszkowska J. The effect of contamination with cadmium on spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and its relationship with the enzymatic activity of soil. Fresen Environ Bull. 2009;18(7):1046-1053.Search in Google Scholar

[5] Adamsson A, Salonen V, Paranko J, Toppari J. Effects of maternal exposure to di-isononylphthalate (DINP) and 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (p,p′-DDE)on steroidogenesis is the fetal rat testis and adrenal gland. Reprod Toxicol. 2009;28:66-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2009.03.002.Search in Google Scholar

[6] Grynkiewicz-Bylina B. Dangerous phthalates in children’s environment. Ecol Chem Eng S. 2011;18(4):455-463. http://tchie.uni.opole.pl/ece_s/S18_4/S4_2011.pdf.Search in Google Scholar

[7] Koniecki D, Wang R, Moody RP, Zhu J. Phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products: concentrations and possible dermal exposure. Environ Res. 2011;111:329-336. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2011.01.013.Search in Google Scholar

[8] Fierens T, Servaes K, Van Holderbeke M, Geerts L, De Henauw S, Sioen I, Vanermen G. Analysis of phthalates in food products and packaging materials sold on the Belgian market. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012;50:2575-2583. DOI: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.04.029.Search in Google Scholar

[9] Ventrice P, Ventrice D, Russo E, De Sarro G. Phthalates: European regulation, chemistry, pharmacokinetic and related toxicity. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2013;36:88-96. DOI: 10.1016/j.etap.2013.03.014.Search in Google Scholar

[10] Peijnenburg WJGM, Sven EJ, Brian F. Phthalates. In: Jørgensen SE, Fath BD, editors. Encyclopedia of Ecology. Oxford: Academic Press; 2008.Search in Google Scholar

[11] Fierens T, Van Holderbeke M, Willems H, De Henauw S, Sioen I. Transfer of eight phthalates through the milk chain - A case study. Environ Int. 2013;51:1-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2012.10.002.Search in Google Scholar

[12] Heudorf U, Mersch-Sundermann V, Angerer J. Phthalates: Toxicology and exposure. Int J Hyg Envir Heal. 2007;210:623-634. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2007.07.011.Search in Google Scholar

[13] Lyche J.L. Phthalates. In: Gupta RC, editor. Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology. 2011. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/258257911_Jan_L._Lyche._2011._Phthalates._In_Reproductive_and_Developmental_Toxicology_Editor._Ramesh_C._Gupta._48_637-655.Search in Google Scholar

[14] Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, and amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006. Official Journal of the European Union OJ L 353, 1-2014; 2008. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:32008R1272.Search in Google Scholar

[15] Risk Assessment Report 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, di-C9-11-branched alkyl esters, C10-rich and di-“isodecyl” phthalate (DIDP). Institute for Health and Consumer Protection, European Chemicals Bureau 2003a;36:234. http://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/b66cca3a-5303-455b-8355-63bf741e263b.Search in Google Scholar

[16] Kransler KM, Bachman AN, McKee RH. Estimates of daily di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP) intake calculated from urinary biomonitoring data. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2013;65:29-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2012.11.004.Search in Google Scholar

[17] Hays SM, Aylward LL, Kirman CR, Krishnan K, Nong A. Biomonitoring equivalents for di-isononyl phthalate (DINP). Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2011;60:181-188. DOI: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2011.03.013.Search in Google Scholar

[18] Risk Assessment Report 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, di-C8-10-branched alkyl esters, C9-rich and di-“isononyl” phthalate (DINP). Institute for Health and Consumer Protection, European Chemicals Bureau 2003b;35:290. http://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/0645f0cb-7880-4d23-acea-27b05ed7de39.Search in Google Scholar

[19] Pałaszewska-Tkacz A, Czerczak S. Ftalan dibutylu - frakcja wdychana. Dokumentacja dopuszczalnych wielkości narażenia zawodowego (Di-n-butyl phthalate - inhaled fraction. Occupational exposure limits for phthalates). Podstawy i Metody Oceny Środ Pracy. 2012;73(3):37-70. http://yadda.icm.edu.pl/yadda/element/bwmeta1.element.baztech-39b11b2c-eea5-4c10-b82f-d4c647536336/c/Palaszewska.pdf.Search in Google Scholar

[20] Rozporządzenie Ministra Środowiska z dnia 26 stycznia 2010 r. w sprawie wartości odniesienia dla niektórych substancji w powietrzu (Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of 26 January 2010 on reference values for selected airborne substances). DzU 2010, Nr 16, poz. 87. http://isap.sejm.gov.pl/DetailsServlet?id=WDU20100160087.Search in Google Scholar

[21] Directive 2005/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2005 amending for the 22nd time Council Directive 76/769/EEC on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations (phthalates in toys and childcare articles) OJ L 344, p. 1-40; 2005. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1445256090653&uri=CELEX:32005L0084.Search in Google Scholar

[22] Rozporządzenie Ministra Zdrowia z dnia 12 stycznia 2011 r. w sprawie wymagań zasadniczych oraz procedur oceny zgodności wyrobów medycznych (Regulation of the Minister of Health of 12 January 2011 on basic requirements and conformance evaluation procedures for medical products). DzU 2011, Nr 16, poz. 74. http://isap.sejm.gov.pl/DetailsServlet?id=WDU20110160074.Search in Google Scholar

[23] Directive 2013/39/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 August 2013 amending Directives 2000/60/EC and 2008/105/EC as regards priority substances in the field of water policy. OJ L 226, p. 1-17; 2013. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:32013L0039.Search in Google Scholar

[24] Clara M, Windhofer G, Hartl W, Braun K, Simon M, Gans O, et al. Occurrence of phthalates In surface runoff, untreated and treated wastewater and fate Turing wastewater treatment. Chemosphere. 2010;78:1078-1084. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.12.052.Search in Google Scholar

[25] Vikelsøe J, Thomsen M, Carlsen L. Phthalates and nonylphenols in profiles of differently dressed soils. Sci Total Environ. 2002;296(1-3):105-116. DOI: 10.1016/S0048-9697(02)00063-3.Search in Google Scholar

[26] Zorníková G, Jarošová A, Hřivna L. Distribution of phthalic acid esters in agricultural plants and soil. Acta Univ Agric Silvic Mendel Brun. 2011;LIX(3):233-238. http://acta.mendelu.cz/media/pdf/actaun_2011059030233.pdfSearch in Google Scholar

[27] Jonsson S, Ejlertsson J, Svensson BH. Transformation of phthalates in Young landfill cells. Waste Manage. 2003;23:641-651. DOI: 10.1016/S0956-053X(03)00099-0.Search in Google Scholar

[28] Kalmykova Y, Björklund K, Strömvall A, Blom L. Partitioning of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, alkylphenols, bisphenol A and phthalates in landfill leachates and stormwater. Water Res. 2013;47:1317-1328. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2012.11.054.Search in Google Scholar

[29] Belowska-Bień K, Zdrojewicz Z. Phthalates - structure, properties, clinical significance. Adv Clin Exp Med. 2006;15(4):677-681. http://www.dbc.wroc.pl/Content/1748/z16.pdf.Search in Google Scholar

[30] Eveillard A, Mselli-Lakhal L, Mogha A, Lasserre F, Polizzi A, Pascussi J, et al. Di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) activates the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR): A novel signaling pathway sensitive to phthalates. Biochem Pharmacol. 2009;77:1735-1746. DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2009.02.023.Search in Google Scholar

[31] Pei XQ, Song M, Guo M, Mo FF, Shen XY. Concentration and risk assessment of phthalates present in indor air from newly decorated apartments. Atmos Environ. 2013;68:17-23. DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.11.039.Search in Google Scholar

[32] Mankidy R, Wiseman S, Ma H, Giesy JP. Biological impact of phthalates. Toxicol Lett. 2013;217:50-58. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2012.11.025.Search in Google Scholar

[33] Enke U, Schleussner E, Pälmke C, Seyfarth L, Koch HM. Phthalate exposure in pregnant women and newborns - The urinary metabolite excretion pattern differs distinctly. Int J Hyg Environ Heal. 2013;216:735-742. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2013.01.006.Search in Google Scholar

[34] Huang Y, Li J, Garcia JM, Lin H, Wang Y, Yan P, et al. Phthalate levels in cord blood are associated with preterm delivery and fetal growth parameters in Chinese women. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(2):e87430. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087430.Search in Google Scholar

[35] Kim S, Lee J, Park J, Kim H-J, Cho G, Kim G-H, et al. Concentrations of phthalate metabolites in breast milk in Korea: Estimating exposure to phthalates and potential risks among breast-fed infants. Sci Total Environ. 2015;508:13-19. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.11.019.Search in Google Scholar

[36] Guerranti C, Sbordoni I, Fanello EL, Borghini F, Corsi I, Focardi SE. Levels of phthalates in human milk samples from central Italy. Microchem J. 2013;107:178-181. DOI: 10.1016/j.microc.2012.06.014.Search in Google Scholar

[37] Johns LE, Cooper GS, Galizia A, Meeker JD. Exposure assessment issues in epidemiology studies of phthalates. Environ Internat. 2015;85:27-39. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.08.005.Search in Google Scholar

[38] Latini G. Monitoring phthalate exposure in humans. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2005;361(1-2):20-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.cccn.2005.05.003.Search in Google Scholar

[39] Dirtu AC, Geens T, Dirinck E, Malarvannam G, Neels H, Van Gaal L, et al. Environ Int. 2013;59:344-353. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2013.06.023.Search in Google Scholar

[40] Wang Y-X, You L, Zeng Q, Sun Y, Huang Y-H, Wang Ch, et al. Phthalate exposure and human semen quality: Results from an infertility clinic in China. Environ Res. 2015;142:1-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.06.010.Search in Google Scholar

[41] Cai H, Zheng W, Zheng P, Wang S, Tan H, He G, Qu W. Human urinary/seminal phthalates or their metabolite levels and semen quality: A meta-analysis. Environ Res. 2015;142:486-494. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.07.008.Search in Google Scholar

[42] Axelsson J, Rylander L, Rignell-Hydbom A, Jönsson BAG, Lindh ChH, Giwercman A. Phthalate exposure and reproductive parameters in young men from the general Swedish population. Environ Internat. 2015;85:54-60. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.07.005.Search in Google Scholar

[43] Yolton K, Xu Y, Strauss D, Altaye M, Calafat AM, Khoury J. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2011;33:558-566. DOI: 10.1016/j.ntt.2011.08.003.Search in Google Scholar

Recommended articles from Trend MD

Plan your remote conference with Sciendo