Levels of phthalates and phenols in urine of pregnant women and young INMA


The phthalates and the phenols are two groups of synthetic chemical substances very used at present. The phthalates, for example, are used so that the plastics are more sensible and difficult to break (plastics). Also they are used like dissolvents for other materials, in grounds of vinyl, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, parts of the automobile, plastic clothes (impermeable), plastic bags, mangeras for the garden, containers to store infantile blood, tubes for medical use, toys. On the other hand, they are used in products of well-taken care of persones, like soaps, champús, lacquers of hair or nail enamel, and cosmetic one. Therefore, its presence is assured in hundreds of consumption products.

Between the phenols, bisfenol A (BPA) is one of the most known. BPA is used to make hard plastics and resins epoxi. The products of plastic it last made with BPA usually are transparent, resistant to the temperature and have the generic polycarbonate name. Between its uses it is possible to mention packages of foods and drinks, bottles of water, compatos baby’s bottles, discs, medical pieces of spare part for cars, crystals for glasses, toys and medical devices. The resins epoxi, also made with BPA, are used like lacquers for metal product coating, as in tins for foods or barrels of wine, covers of bottles, materials for grounds, paintings and tubes of water canalization. Some non-flammable materials and dental sealants and compounds also can contain BPA. BPA also is used in the thermal paper (receipts) of the regsitradoras machines and tellers, in self-adhesive labels, fax paper and tickets of currencies of legal course.
How we are the exhibited people to ftalatos and phenols
The people we were exposed to ftalatos and phenols, mainly, when eating and drinking foods that are been in contact with containers and products that contain these substances. A smaller exhibition can happen by the inhalation of the air that we breathed or by contact with the skin, that in the case of cosmetics is important.  Once these compounds enter body of people, majority of them turn into products degraded (metabolites), that is eliminated quickly by urinary tract, reason why are easily recognizable in urine.

The small children can have a risk greater than the adults to the exhibition of these substances that have entered the body. Diverse studies realised outside Spain suggested all we were exhibited to this type of composed. The study realised from Project INMA has come to confirm the extension of these exhibition and has allowed to investigate in the factors that favor the exhibition of the pregnant women and their children.

How they affect to the health of the people

All the effects are not known still that the exhibition to these compounds in the human health has, but some studies relate it to the alterations of the reproductive system and to the behavior of the children, especially if the exhibition has happened during the development of the embryo or the fetus (pregnancy). This is due that it enters the activities that are attributed to these chemical substances are their capacity to alter the endocrine system, that is to say some behave like disruptores endocrine.

The temporary separation between exhibition and presentation of the disease, next to complex patogénicos mechanisms in which they take part more of a chemistry compound at the same time (combined effect)  are some of the difficulties that the unquestionable demostration of the association between exhibition to these environmental polluting agents and disease has. The relatively low concentrations to which the people are exhibited are part of the arguments who maintain the detractors of this hypothesis, but forget that the exhibition happens at the same time as compose multiple.

Levels in urine of phthalates and phenols in women and children INMA

In order to know the exhibition 11 phthalates and 9 different phenols, in Project INMA we have analyzed the presence of its metabolisms in samples of urine picked up in the third trimester of pregnancy of 120 mothers of Asturias, Sabadell, Country Vasco and Valencia and in 30 children of Granada of 4 years of age.

We have found detectable concentrations of these substances in the majority of the analyzed samples of urine (84{3effe4377b6f02be2524d084f7d03914ac32a2b62c0a056ca3444e58c1f10d0b} of the women and 100{3effe4377b6f02be2524d084f7d03914ac32a2b62c0a056ca3444e58c1f10d0b} of the children), confirming that the exhibition to phthalates and phenols is generalized and inadvertent. The children presented concentrations majors that the pregnant women. The place of residence of the studied people, as well as one better education and social class, was associated with the levels of ftalatos and phenols.

Because in the children the majors are observed corporal concentrations of phthalates and phenols, and although its detrimental effect on the health not yet has been defined accurately, the European sanitary agencies (EFSA) and American (FDA) propose alternatives that help to reduce the infantile exhibition to these substances. Some initiatives, like the prohibition of the comercialziación of the polycarbonate baby’s bottles in the EU as of the past month of June, already are helping to reduce the infantile exhibition. One is precaution measures that are being very well received in the scientific community.


* Investigadores que han intervenido, under the coordination of Marieta Fernandez, Casas L; Fernández MF; Llop S, Guxens M; Ballester F; Olea N; Irurzun MB; Rodríguez LS; Riaño I; Tardón A; Vrijheid M; Calafat AM; Sunyer J

* Marieta Fernández is doctor in Chemical Sciences, investigator of the Ramon and Cajal of the University of Granada and coordinator of cohorte INMA of Granada.