Fast food consumption is linked with biomarkers the ortho-phthalates exposures. However, the chemical content of rapid food is unknown; particular ortho-phthalates (i.e., di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and also di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)) have been phased out and also replaced with other plasticizers (e.g., dioctyl terephthalate (DEHT)).

You are watching: Journal of exposure science and environmental epidemiology


We carried out a preliminary examine to examine ortho-phthalate and also replacement plasticizer concentration in foods and also food taking care of gloves indigenous U.S. Rapid food restaurants.


We derived hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, chicken burritos, cheese pizza (n = 64 food samples) and gloves (n = 3) indigenous restaurants and also analyzed them because that 11 chemicals making use of gas chromatography mass spectrometry.


We discovered DEHT in ~ the greatest concentrations in both foodstuffs (n = 19; median = 2510 µg/kg; max = 12,400 µg/kg) and also gloves (n = 3; range: 28–37% through weight). We detected DnBP and also DEHP in 81% and 70% of food samples, respectively. Typical DEHT concentrations to be significantly higher in burritos 보다 hamburgers (6000 µg/kg vs. 2200 µg/kg; p 



Full size table


In this preliminary exposure assessment study, us report detectable level of plasticizers in all foodstuffs sampled indigenous several significant U.S. Rapid food chains. DnBP and DEHP to be the most frequently detected ortho-phthalates. DEHT was the most frequently detected replacement plasticizer and also was detected in ~ much greater concentrations than other chemicals. We usually observed greater chemical concentrations in foods containing meat family member to various other foods, such together cheese pizza. In addition, we report concentrations of DEHT and DINCH in both foods and gloves sampled indigenous the very same restaurant; to our understanding these space the an initial reportable data that DEHT in quick food items. Our study adds come prior study by concentrating on rapid food meals, an important component the cumulative dietary phthalate exposures, that have been highly processed, packaged, and handled. Come date, a bulk of the researches connecting fast food consumption to ortho-phthalate exposure have actually relied ~ above biomonitoring data. Our examine supports the outcomes from these biomonitoring studies and provides exposure data that deserve to be used in phthalate hazard assessments. Due to the fact that multiple phthalates contribute to typical adverse wellness effects and also humans are all at once exposed to multiple phthalates, the nationwide Academies recommended that regulatory agencies think about a cumulative risk assessment strategy for ortho-phthalates <1>. Come this end, precise data from all potential exposure resources are critical. Furthermore, till the U.S. Take away regulatory activity to attend to phthalate contamination in foods, these findings might push restaurants come voluntarily adopt policies to eliminate harmful chemistry in your foods.

While number of prior studies have actually measured concentrations of ortho-phthalates and plasticizers in foods, plenty of are not directly equivalent to our examine due to differences in the food items sampled or the sources of foods (i.e., grocery store or market). One prior examine measured DEHT in 14 milk and dairy supermarket assets using analytical methods similar to our study and also reported the all DEHT concentrations were listed below the LOQ that 0.05 µg/g <28>. One perhaps relevant research is by Cao et al. (2015) wherein they quantified the concentration of DiBP, DnBP, DEHP, and also DEHA, in pizza, fries, chicken nuggets, and hamburgers as component of the Canadian 2013 complete Diet Study and also used analysis methods similar to our study <29>. However, there room important distinctions in study style since the authors concentrated on food item from grocery store stores quite than a restaurant. We normally report lower mean concentration of the ortho-phthalates in our sampled foodstuffs than Cao et al. (2015) other than for DEHP concentration in hamburgers, i beg your pardon were comparable between the two research studies (our study: 40.3 µg/kg vs. Cao et al. 2015: 43.0 µg/kg) <29>. Our outcomes are comparable to data gift in a current review article, which summarized concentrations the ortho-phthalates in different foods making use of data published from 2001 to 2019 <30>. The writer reported high concentrations of DnBP and DEHP in beef, cheese, and also oils, butters, and also fats; DEHP was additionally detected in high concentrations in chicken <30>. These outcomes align v our findings of generally higher chemical concentration in meals containing meat.

To our knowledge, just one other study has actually reported DEHT and DINCH concentration in food handling gloves typically used at U.S. Based fast food restaurants. In a white file by the Ecology Center, the authors collected 101 vinyl (non-medical) gloves native distributors that supply restaurants, including several restaurants sampled in our research <31>. Overall, the writer reported both ortho-phthalates and also non-phthalate plasticizers in gloves. The authors offered GC/MS to quantify DEHT and DINCH in 3 glove samples the did not contain ortho-phthalates and reported that their gloves contained an typical of 32.3% wt that DEHT (n = 3) and also 2.6% wt the DINCH (n = 1) <31>. In ours study, us report a comparable average DEHT concentration indigenous gloves built up from three fast food chain (our study: n = 3; 33% wt) and also a slightly higher DINCH concentration (n = 1; 7% wt).

In addition, our findings of DEHT and also DINCH in foods accumulated from the same restaurants as our gloves assistance the assertion that food handling call materials may be one resource of plasticizer exposure. A research by Tsumura et al. (2001) reported greater levels of DEHP in foods items after they were handled and also packaged v PVC gloves containing DEHP <22>. We measured high concentrations of DEHT in hamburgers and burritos and DINCH in hamburgers, but neither to be detected in fries. Hamburgers and also burritos require much more assembly than fries, hence the increased dealing with of hamburgers and burritos through gloved employees may explain their higher concentrations. Alternatively, this finding could reflect the generally greater concentrations of chemicals in foodstuffs with meat. Overall, ours detection the plasticizers in foods items from U.S. Chain is continual with recent biomonitoring research studies that have detected urinary metabolites of DEHA, DEHT, and also DINCH in assorted study populations and report that DEHT exposure is enhancing in the general populace over time <4, 17, 18, 32>.

The prevalent detection of DEHP and DnBP in our sample of popular fast foods, but not in gloves, may indicate that contamination of foodstuffs occurs at various other parts of the food supply chain. Recently, a study performed by U.S. Food and also Drug management (FDA) researchers reported detectable concentrations of six ortho-phthalates (DnBP, DEHP, BBzP, DINP, DnOP, and diisodecyl phthalate ) in paper-based quick food packaging built up from restaurants situated in Washington, D.C. <33>. Many concentrations were below the MDL or top confidence limit. However, DEHP, DnBP, BBzP, and DiNP to be detected in food packaging samples native fries, hamburgers, pizza, and chicken; comparable foods were also included in ours study. An additional study through the same team analyzed PVC food contact and food processing materials for ortho- and non-phthalate plasticizers and reported detectable concentrations of DEHP in tubing and DiNP in conveyor belts <34>. By focusing exclusively on details food contact materials, the authors are characterizing chemical exposure at certain parts of the food supply chain, and also simultaneously, neglecting the merged contribution of every potential resources of plasticizer exposure. In contrast, the chemistry concentrations we quantified in our research of rapid food items most likely represent air pollution from multiple sources, including those analyzed in the FDA studies, as well as other resources not considered in the FDA studies.

Widespread phthalate exposure, including potential pollution of the food supply, is concerning for human being health. Exposure to ortho-phthalates such together DEHP and also DnBP is connected to adverse health effects including neurodevelopmental, metabolic, and reproductive disorders <5, 7, 35, 36>. For example, DEHP is a renowned male reproductive toxicant and induces cryptorchidism and also changes in testicular testosterone and also Leydig cell homeostasis <37>. This human body of evidence has triggered a consumer push for phthalate-free products and also regulatory action to border the usage of ortho-phthalates in advertisement products. However, uneven the ortho-phthalates, over there is restricted toxicity and health proof for the replacement plasticizers, and also research argues that these replacements are enhancing in use before their health results are fine characterized. In rats, DEHA to be a mild come moderate developmental toxicant, however, anti-androgenic or reproductive results were not observed <21, 38,39,40>. Similarly, there have actually been no reports the reproductive effects or carcinogenicity in rats exposed come DEHT, back a majority of this findings come native industry-funded publications <20, 41,42,43> and the results must be construed with caution <44>. The reproductive toxicity the DINCH is unclear. Two experimental studies reported results on the testes and Leydig cells following DINCH exposure, while one more study reported no alterations to masculine reproductive function <19, 45, 46>. In addition, a few epidemiologic studies have attached urinary metabolites the DINCH and DEHT to uterine fibroids and also oxidative stress and also inflammation, however, the outcomes to day lack agreement <47,48,49>.

The ToxCast data for the replacement plasticizers DEHT, DINCH, and also DEHA indicate that these chemicals interact with one or more of the following nuclear receptor signaling pathways: RXRβ, PXR, and ERα. These nuclear receptors play far-reaching roles in person health, such the abnormal activity could perturb regular physiological functioning and also lead come adverse health effects. The retinoid X receptors (RXR) serve as heterodimerzation partner to one-third the the receptors in the nuclear receptor superfamily. Therefore, activation the RXR by ligands plays an essential regulatory role in multiple nuclear receptor signaling pathways and inappropriate activation by eco-friendly chemicals deserve to lead to multiple disadvantage human health outcomes <27>. The pregnane X receptor (PXR), likewise known as the steroid and also xenobiotic X receptor, is associated in metabolism and also detoxification of drugs and exogenous chemicals. In addition, PXR activation has been connected to health and wellness outcomes such together colon and hepatic cancers and chemoresistance <27, 50>. The estrogen receptor (ER) have actually been widely studied in relationship to human wellness diseases, in part because lock are affiliated in the regulation that many facility physiological processes. As a result, interruptions to the ER signaling pathway contribute to cardiovascular and metabolic conditions and certain cancers <27>. This proof helps illustrate just how the instead of plasticizers, potentially via these specific nuclear receptors, might lead to adverse health outcomes. Importantly, this evidence additionally highlights the need for more rigorous and also concrete data. In fact, according to GreenScreen for much safer Chemicals ratings, one assessment technique for scientifically evaluate the high quality of chemistry substitutes to avoid regrettable substitutions native the NGO Clean manufacturing Action, DEHT and also DINCH are good substitutes for ortho-phthalates, but the organization advocates because that finding safer options <3>.

See more: What Is 4/5 As A Percent ? How Much Is 4 Out Of 5 Written As A Percent Value

Our findings have to be taken into consideration in irradiate of the strengths and limitations of this study. This is the first study come quantify concentration of ortho-phthalates and replacement plasticizers in food and gloves from U.S. Fast food chains and also the very first to finding DEHT in foods. However, since this is a preliminary study, there are some vital limitations. Us had tiny sample sizes, an especially for the DEHT analysis, which restricted our capability to conduct part statistical analyses. We just sampled the most famous foods from every restaurant and also all the restaurants were situated in one city, so our findings may not it is in generalizable to all meals offered at all fast food restaurants. In this preliminary study, the quantification of chemistry in food handling gloves short precision. Because of limitations in our exploit methods, us were just able come detect chemicals current in gloves at high concentrations. In addition, chemistry concentrations in the gloves may have decreased due to the fact that the time the glove was manufactured, so us are likely underestimating the concentrations of DEHT and DINCH in our gloves samples. We detected part variability in our concentrations by sampling phase, which might be a result of seasonality due to the fact that phase 1 and also phase 2 samples were gathered in different seasons (i.e., spring vs. Fall). However, the sample concentrations were not repeatedly different between phases. Although useful for screening purposes, the ToxCast assay data is created using one in vitro mechanism which cannot fully capture the bioactivity the a chemistry metabolized in a entirety organism. Together a result, us cannot make critical conclusions around the toxicity the DEHA, DINCH, and also DEHT based solely on the ToxCast assay results.