Chemicals known as phthalates and parabens are widely used in personal care products, however, it is unknown if this is an important exposure source for men. A new study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found these chemicals present in urine samples taken several hours after men in the study used the products.
The study was published online August 24, 2017 in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Phthalates are used as plasticizers in scores of products ranging from vinyl flooring to food packaging and parabens are widely used in personal care products, such as cologne, sunscreen, and deodorants, to extend shelf life. Some of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors and have been linked with adverse health outcomes.
Lead author Feiby Nassan, postdoctoral fellow in the departments of Environmental Health and Nutrition, and colleagues tested 1,037 urine samples from 400 men in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) Study. The men reported their use of 14 personal care products and provided urine samples between 2004–2015.
The largest amount of one phthalate was associated with use of cologne/perfumes as well as deodorants. The largest percent increase for parabens was associated with the use of sunblock lotion and hand/body lotion. The presence of the chemicals was generally higher within six hours of product use.
Other Harvard Chan authors included Russ Hauser, Frederick Lee Hisaw professor of reproductive physiology and acting chair, Department of Environmental Health, senior author; Dean Michelle A. Williams; Brent Coull, professor of biostatistics; Joseph Braun, visiting scientist in environmental health; Audrey Gaskins, research associate in nutrition; and Jennifer Ford, research nurse manager for the EARTH study.