Preliminary toxicological assessment of phthalate esters from drinking water consumed in Portugal

Jose Santana, Clara Giraudi, Emilio Marengo, Elisa Robotti, Sara Moreno Pires, Ines Nunes, Elvira Maria Mendes Sardão Monteiro Gaspar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports, for the first time, the concentra- tions of selected phthalates in drinking water consumed in Portugal. The use of bottled water in Portugal has increased in recent years. The main material for bottles is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Its plasticizer components can contami- nate water by leaching, and several scientific studies have evidenced potential health risks of phthalates to humans of all ages. With water being one of the most essential elements to human health and because it is consumed by ingestion, the evaluation of drinking water quality, with respect to phthalate contents, is important. This study tested seven commercial brands of bottled water consumed in Portugal, six PET and one glass (the most consumed) bottled water. Furthermore, tap water from Lisbon and three small neighbor cities was ana- lyzed. Phthalates (di-n-butyl phthalate ester (DnBP), bis(2- ethylhexyl) phthalate ester (DEHP), and di-i-butyl phthalate ester(DIBP))inwatersampleswerequantified(PETandglass) by means of direct immersion solid-phase microextraction and ionic liquid gas chromatography associated with flame ionization detection or mass spectrometry due to their high boiling points and water solubility. The method utilized in this study showed a linear range for target phthalates between 0.02 and 6.5 μg L−1, good precision and low limits of detection that were between 0.01 and 0.06 μg L−1, and quantitation between 0.04 and 0.19 μg L−1. Only three phthalates were detected in Portuguese drinking waters: dibutyl (DnBP), diisobutyl (DIBP), and di(ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). Concentrations ranged between 0.06 and 6.5 μg L−1for DnBP, between 0.02 and 0.16 μg L−1for DEHP, and between 0.1 and 1.89 μg L−1 for DIBP. The concentration of DEHP was found to be up to five times higher in PET than in glass bottled water. Surprisingly, all the three phthalates were detected in glass bottled water with the amount of DnBP being higher (6.5 μg L−1) than in PET bottled water. These concentrations do not represent direct risk to human health. Regarding potable tap water, only DIBP and DEHP were detected. Two of the citiesshowedconcentrationofallthreephthalatesintheirwater below the limits of detection of the method. All the samples showed phthalate concentrations below 6 μg L−1, the maxi- mum admissible concentration in water established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The concentrations mea- sured in Portuguese bottled waters do not represent any risk for adult's health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1380-1390
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Bottled water
  • DEHP
  • DIBP
  • DnBP
  • Drinking water
  • Ionic liquid gas chromatography (IL-GC)
  • Persistent organic pollutants
  • Phthalates (PAEs)
  • Portugal
  • Profiles

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Preliminary toxicological assessment of phthalate esters from drinking water consumed in Portugal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this