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Phthalates and alternative plasticizers and potential for contact exposure from children’s backpacks and toys


This work focuses on the mass content of plasticizers in children’s backpacks and toys, and their mass transfer from product surfaces to cotton wipes. The mass content of plasticizers in six backpacks and seven toys was measured by extracting them in tetrahydrofuran. Bis(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DEHT) was the most common plasticizer, dominating the composition of plasticizers in four backpacks (average mass content in product polyvinyl chloride, 5.38±1.98%–25.5±3.54%) and six plastic toys (8.17±1.85%–21.2±1.11%). The surface of each product was wiped with three dry and three wet (by isopropanol) cotton wipes, so as to evaluate the mass transfer of plasticizers to clothing and human skin, respectively. DEHT was the most common plasticizer detected on wipe samples. There were strong correlations (backpacks r=0.90; plastic toys r=0.96) between average mass transfer of DEHT to wet wipes and its average mass content in the product. The mass transfers of the five dominant plasticizers in one backpack to both dry and wet wipes were also correlated (both r=1.00) with their mass contents. These results suggest that the mass transfer of plasticizers from products to clothing or human skin is strongly associated with their mass content.

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Although this research has been funded wholly by the US Environmental Protection Agency's STAR program through grant 83560601, it has not been subjected to any EPA review and therefore does not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

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Correspondence to Linsey C Marr.

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Xie, M., Wu, Y., Little, J. et al. Phthalates and alternative plasticizers and potential for contact exposure from children’s backpacks and toys. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 26, 119–124 (2016).

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  • alternative plasticizer
  • dermal exposure
  • mass content
  • mass transfer
  • phthalate

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