In February 2018 researchers from Taiwan published the results of their study to assess phthalate exposure in 23 cosmetics, 4 perfume and 9 clothing department sales assistants. Phthalates are known endocrine disrupting chemicals. A total of 108 urine samples were collected before and after work shifts and, together with 32 air samples collected from the departments, were analysed for phthalate content. Demographic information was collected via questionnaires. Results showed that average post-shift levels of mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate and monomethyl phthalate in the urine were significantly higher than the corresponding pre-shift levels in the cosmetics group, and that the post-shift levels of monomethyl phthalate were significantly higher than the corresponding pre-shift levels in the perfume group. Analysis of the air samples revealed that the average level of diethyl phthalate in both the cosmetics and perfume departments, and the level of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in the perfume department were higher than those found in the clothing department. A further analysis revealed that over half of those working in the cosmetics and perfume departments had exceeded safe exposure levels of diethyl phthalate and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate and, due to the type of phthalate exposure, had an increased risk of developing reproductive or liver disorders. The researchers concluded that both inhalation and the skin are important routes of phthalate exposure for individuals working in cosmetics and perfume departments.
Huang PC et al. Characterization of phthalates exposure and risk for cosmetics and perfume sales clerks. Environ Pollut. 2018 Feb;233:577-587