chemical information
CAS RN:

2306-33-4

Chemical Class:

Phthalates

Found in these people:

Sara Corbett, Nicholas, May, Participant #1, Participant #10, Fred Gellert, Adelaide Gomer, Ann Hunter-Welborn, Jesse Johnson, Winsome McIntosh, Judi Shils, Participant #18, Lynde Uihlein, Participant #2, Participant #20, Jessica Welborn, Alicia Wittink, Irene Crowe, Martha Davis, Emily Sayrs, Participant #6, Annette Gellert, Heather Gellert, Landon Gellert, Anonymous Adult, Jessica Assaf, Erin Schrode, Asta Haman-Dicko, Hope Atkins, Rizza Alcaria, Alex Wells, Anonymous Teen 9, Anonymous Teen 20, Emma Spencer, Christa Heffron, Natalie Klapper, Sydney Blankers, Anonymous Teen 11, Sarah Oswald, Caroline Burlingame, Laurie Mittelmann, Monica Paulson, Linda Loi, Donalin Cazeau, Jenny Gilbertson, Anonymous Adult 2, Anonymous Adult 3, Anonymous Adult 5, Anonymous Adult 4, Anonymous Adult 6, Anonymous Adult 7, Anonymous Teen 1, Anonymous Adult 9, Anonymous Adult 12, Anonymous Adult 13, Anonymous Adult 11, Anonymous Adult 10, Anonymous Adult 14, Anonymous Adult 15, Anonymous Adult 16, Anonymous Adult 17, Anonymous Adult 18, Anonymous Adult 20, Anonymous Adult 21

Found in these locations:

NY, USA; CA, USA; Belvedere, CA; Ithaca, NY; Encinitas, CA; New York, NY; Washington, DC; Ross, CA; VA, USA; Milwaukee, WI; CO, USA; San Francisco, CA; Littleton, CO; MD, USA; San Rafael, CA; San Leandro, CA; Tuolumne, CA; Manteca, CA; Austin, TX; Winchester, MA; Portland, OR; Belmont, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Langhorne, PA; North Caldwell, NJ; University Place, WA; Dorchester, MA; Novato, CA; Chicago, IL; Newton, MA; Fredericksburg, VA; Lamont, FL; Atlanta, GA; Mountain View, CA; Stanford, CA; Palo Alto, CA; Berkeley, CA; Alamo, CA; Fallbrook, CA

Exposure routes:

Breakdown product of chemical used in cosmetics, paint, plastic, food packaging, and other common consumer products.


Summary

Found within many consumer products, phthalates are industrial plasticizers that impart flexibility and resilience to plastic, among other uses. Monoethyl phthalate (mEtP) is a metabolite, or breakdown product, of diethyl phthalate (DEP), most often used as a fragrance ingredient in perfume, cologne, deodorant, soap, shampoo, lotion, and other personal care products (EWG 2003; Wolff 2007). Exposure to diethyl phthalate occurs through direct use of products containing this chemical, as well as through inhalation of contaminated air (CDC 2005).

In September 2000, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted the first accurate measurements of human phthalate exposures, and reported finding phthalates in every one of 289 people tested, at surprisingly high levels (Blount 2000). The latest exposure study from CDC indicates that mEtP is a widespread contaminant of the human body (CDC 2005). Measurements of mEtP in the urine of over 2,500 Americans indicate that women are more exposed than men (CDC 2005). In a recent study of girls age 6 to 8 spearheaded by Mount Sinai School of Medicine, this particular phthalate metabolite was found in all 90 girls tested; typical concentrations of mEtP were higher than the typical concentrations of any other phthalate metabolite tested (Wolff 2007). The European Union has banned use of some phthalates in cosmetics and other consumer products, in response to concerns about exposure as well as toxicity.

Phthalates are potent toxins to the male reproductive system. High levels of some phthalate metabolites are associated with reduced levels of sperm motility and concentration, and alterations in hormone levels in adult men; assessment of mEtP in particular reveal contradictory or non-significant associations (Duty 2003, 2004, 2005). A recent study of 134 births found marked differences in the reproductive systems of baby boys whose mothers had the highest mEtP measurements during pregnancy (Swan 2005). A second study indicates that these mothers' phthalate exposures were not extreme, but rather were typical for about one-quarter of all U.S. women (Marsee 2006). Further research documented decreased testosterone levels among baby boys exposed to mEtP in their mother's breast milk (Main 2006).

In addition to this epidemiological research on humans, laboratory studies indicate phthalates cause a broad range of birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairments in animals exposed in utero and shortly after birth (Marsman 1995; Wine 1997; Ema 1998; Mylchreest 1998, 1999, 2000; Gray 1999). Phthalate exposures damage the testes, prostate gland, epididymis, penis, and seminal vesicles in laboratory animals (e.g., Mylchreest 1998); most of these effects persist throughout the animal's life.

Further epidemiological studies indicate phthalates may produce non-reproductive health effects in people. For example, increased levels of mEtP were associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance in adult men in the United States (Stahlhut 2007). According to the American Heart Association (2007), over 60 million Americans have insulin resistance; 1 in 4 of these people develop Type 2 diabetes.




Monoethyl phthalate

Breakdown product of diethyl phthalate, used in consumer products, fragrances. Fetal and adult exposures are linked to male reproductive problems.

Monoethyl phthalate has been found in 74 of the 74 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. It has also been found in 7,922 of the 8,015 people tested in CDC biomonitoring studies.


Other health concerns for Monoethyl phthalate (References)

health concern or target organ weight of evidence
Chronic effects, generalunknown


Results for Monoethyl phthalate

in urine

Showing results from EWG/Commonweal Study #7, consumer product chemicals in adults and teens, EWG Study #6, consumer product chemicals in mothers and daughters, EWG Study #10, cosmetic chemicals in teens, EWG Study #8, chemicals in mother and 2 children, Dateline NBC Families, Dateline NBC Families, Pets Project

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: 58 ug/g creatinine in urine
  • found in 74 of 74 people in the group

CDC biomonitoring results

  • geometric mean: 166 ug/g creatinine in urine
  • found in 7922 of 8015 people in the group
0.24 ug/g creatinine in urine 30800


Monoethyl phthalate results


Detailed toxicity classifications (References)

classification governing entity/references
Chronic effects, general - weight of evidence unknown/unassessedStahlhut RW, van Wijngaarden E, Dye TD, Cook S, Swan SH. 2007. Concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites are associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance in adult U.S. males. Environmental health perspectives 115(6): 876-882.
Chronic effects, general - weight of evidence unknown/unassessedStahlhut RW, van Wijngaarden E, Dye TD, Cook S, Swan SH. 2007. Concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites are associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance in adult U.S. males. Environmental health perspectives 115(6): 876-882.