Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products

Robin E. Dodson, Marcia Nishioka, Laurel J. Standley, Laura J. Perovich, Julia Green Brody, Ruthann A. Rudel


BACKGROUND: Laboratory and human studies raise concerns about endocrine disruption and asthma from exposure to chemicals in consumer products. Limited labeling or testing information is available to evaluate products as exposure sources.

OBJECTIVES: We analytically quantified endocrine disruptors and asthma-related chemicals in a range of cosmetics, personal care products, cleaners, sunscreens, and vinyl products. We evaluated whether labels can be used to select products without these chemicals.

METHODS: We selected 213 commercial products representing 50 product types. We tested 42 composited samples of high market-share products. We also tested 43 alternative products identified using criteria expected to minimize target compounds. Analytes included parabens, phthalates, bisphenol A, triclosan, ethanolamines, alkylphenols, fragrances, glycol ethers, cyclosiloxanes and UV filters.

RESULTS: We detected 55 compounds, indicating a wide range of exposures from common products. Vinyl products contained >10% DEHP and could be an important source of DEHP in homes. In other products, the highest concentrations and numbers of detects were in the fragranced products perfume, air fresheners, and dryer sheets, and in sunscreens. Some products that did not contain the well-known EDC phthalates contained other less-studied phthalates (also EDCs), suggesting a substitution. Many detected chemicals were not listed on labels.

CONCLUSIONS: Common products contain complex mixtures of EDCs and asthma-related compounds. Toxicological studies of these mixtures are needed to understand their biological activity. For epidemiology, findings raise cautions about potential confounding from co-occurring chemicals and misclassification due to variability in product composition. It appears that consumers can avoid some target chemicals‚ synthetic fragrances, BPA, and regulated active ingredients‚ using purchasing criteria. More complete labeling would enable consumers to avoid the rest.

Citation: Dodson RE, Nishioka M, Standley LJ, Perovich LJ, Brody JG, Rudel RA 2012. Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products. Environ Health Perspect :-. http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104052

Received: 09 June 2011; Accepted: 21 February 2012; Online: 08 March 2012