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GC/MS Screening Method for Phthalate Esters in Children's Toys

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Phthalate esters are commonly added into polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as softeners to make the plastic material flexible. Phthalates are suspected cancer-causing agents and possible teratogens; they have been linked to liver and kidney damage, as well as the underdevelopment of reproductive organs in humans and animals. Public safety concerns about human exposure to phthalates are on the rise because they do not chemically bond to PVC and leach from the material over time. Following the lead of the European Union and Japan in restricting the use of certain phthalates, a legal limit of 0.1 in children's toys was established by the California State Legislature (AB-1108). In addition to its mission to protect public health and the environment from toxic harm, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has been delegated the role of lead agency for consumer product safety. To support DTSC's Green Chemistry activities, the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory Mobile Laboratory Team has developed an on-site screening method to monitor phthalates in children's toys. This method is simple, fast, and effective, with ample sensitivity to quantify the 6 restricted phthalates in children's toys at 100 ppm (limit of quantitation = 100 g/g) which is 10 times lower than the legal allowable level of 0.1. Additionally, the method has a high throughput capability and enables testing of approximately 610 samples per day, depending on the complexity of the sample matrix and concentration. This method is designed to survey the 6 phthalates in children's toys and other consumer products for compliance with the threshold of 0.1 (1000 ppm).

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: State of California, Department of Toxic Substances Control, 700 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710.

Publication date: May 28, 2009

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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