Phthalates in dormitory dust and human urine: A study of exposure characteristics and risk assessments of university students

Liting Hua, Sai Guo, Jiaping Xu, Xiaomeng Yang, Hongkai Zhu, Yiming Yao, Lin Zhu, Yongcheng Li, Jingran Zhang, Hongwen Sun, Hongzhi Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Phthalate diesters (PAEs) are prevalent and potentially toxic to human health. The university dormitory represents a typical and relatively uniform indoor environment. This study evaluated the concentrations of phthalate monoesters (mPAEs) in urine samples from 101 residents of university status, and the concentrations of PAEs in dust collected from 36 corresponding dormitories. Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP, median: 68.0 μg/g) was the major PAE in dust, and mono-ethyl phthalate (47.9 %) was the most abundant mPAE in urine. The levels of both PAEs in dormitory dust and mPAEs in urine were higher in females than in males, indicating higher PAE exposure in females. Differences in lifestyles (dormitory time and plastic product use frequency) may also affect human exposure to PAEs. Moreover, there were significant positive correlations between the estimated daily intakes of PAEs calculated by using concentrations of PAEs in dust (EDID) and mPAEs in urine (EDIU), suggesting that PAEs in dust could be a significant source of human exposure to PAEs. The value of EDID/EDIU for low molecular weight PAEs (3–6 carbon atoms in their backbone) was lower than that of high molecular weight PAEs. The contribution rate of various pathways to PAE exposure illustrated that non-dietary ingestion (87.8 %) was the major pathway of human exposure to PAEs in dust. Approximately 4.95 % of university students' hazard quotients of DEHP were >1, indicating that there may be some health risks associated with DEHP exposure among PAEs. Furthermore, it is recommended that some measures be taken to reduce the production and application of DEHP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157251
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • Phthalates
  • Indoor dust
  • Urine
  • Exposure
  • Biomonitoring


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