Parabens in 24 h urine samples of the German Environmental Specimen Bank from 1995 to 2012
Moos, Rebecca K.; Koch, Holger M.; Angerer, Jürgen; Apel, Petra; Schröter-Kermani, Christa; Brüning, Thomas; Kolossa-Gehring, Marike
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 218 (2015), 7, 666-674
Parabens are widely used as antimicrobial preservatives in personal care and consumer products, food and pharmaceuticals. Due to their ubiquity, humans are constantly exposed to these chemicals. We assessed exposure to nine parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, n- and iso-propyl-, n- and iso-butyl-, benzyl-, pentyl- and heptyl paraben) in the German population from 1995 to 2012 based on 660 24 h urine samples from the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) using on-line HPLC coupled to isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry. The limit of quantification (LOQ) was 0.5 μg/L for all parabens. We detected methyl-, ethyl- and n-propyl paraben in 79–99% of samples, followed by n-butyl paraben in 40% of samples. We infrequently detected iso-butyl-, iso-propyl- and benzyl paraben in 24%, 4% and 1.4% of samples, respectively. Urinary concentrations were highest for methyl paraben (median 39.8 μg/L; 95th percentile 319 μg/L) followed by n-propyl paraben (4.8 μg/L; 95th percentile 74.0 μg/L) and ethyl paraben (2.1 μg/L; 95th percentile 39.1 μg/L). Women had significantly higher urinary levels for all parabens than men, except for benzyl paraben. Samples from the ESB revealed that over the investigation period of nearly 20 years urinary paraben levels remained surprisingly constant; only methyl paraben had a significant increase, for both men and women. We found strong correlations between methyl- and n-propyl paraben and between n- and iso-butyl paraben. These results indicate that parabens are used in combination and arise from common sources of exposure. Urinary excretion factors are needed to extrapolate from individual urinary concentrations to actual doses.