Biomarkers of human exposure to personal care products: Results from the Flemish Environment and Health Study (FLEHS 2007–2011)

Elly Den Hond, Melissa Paulussen, Tinne Geens, Liesbeth Bruckers, Willy Baeyens, Frank David, Emmie Dumont, Ilse Loots, Bert Morrens, B. Nemery, Vera Nelen, Greet Schoeters, N. Van Larebeke, Adrian Covaci

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49 Citations (Scopus)


Personal care products (PCPs), such as soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, lotions, etc., contain a variety of chemicals that have been described as potentially hormone disrupting chemicals. Therefore, it is important to assess the internal exposure of these chemicals in humans. Within the 2nd Flemish Environment and Health Study (FLEHS II, 2007-2011), the human exposure to three classes of pollutants that are present in a wide variety of PCPs - i.e. polycyclic musks (galaxolide, HHCB and tonalide, AHTN in blood), parabens (urinary para-hydroxybenzoic acid, HBA) and triclosan (urinary TCS) - was assessed in 210 Flemish adolescents (14-15 years) and in 204 adults (20-40 years) randomly selected from the general population according to a stratified two stage clustered study design. The aim of this study was to define average levels of exposure in the general Flemish population and to identify determinants of exposure. Average levels (GM (95% CI)) in the Flemish adolescents were 0.717 (0.682-0.753) ?g/L for blood HHCB; 0.118 (0.108-0.128) ?g/L for blood AHTN; 1022 (723-1436) ?g/L for urinary HBA and 2.19 (1.64-2.92) ?g/L for urinary TCS. In the adults, levels of HBA were on average 634 (471-970) ?g/L. Inter-individual variability was small for HHCB and AHTN, intermediate for HBA, and large for TCS. All biomarkers were positively associated with the use of PCPs. Additionally, levels of HHCB and AHTN increased with higher educational level of the adolescents. Both in adults and adolescents, urinary HBA levels were negatively correlated with BMI.

We define here Flemish exposure values for biomarkers of PCPs, which can serve as baseline exposure levels to identify exposure trends in future biomonitoring campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-110
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • human biomonitoring


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