Phthalate esters on urban airborne particles: Levels in PM10 and PM2.5 from Mexico City and theoretical assessment of lung exposure
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) from the environment are associated with reproductive abnormalities (i.e. decreased sperm concentration; increased endometriosis) and alterations of the cardiovascular system (i.e. increased blood pressure and risk of coronary disease). Some phthalates esters have been identified as EDCs, for which inhalation is considered as one of the routes of exposure. However, only little is known regarding inhalational exposure to EDCs via urban airborne particles. In the present study, we report the monthly concentration of 8 phthalate esters measured in PM10 and PM2.5 collected and recovered during 7 months in a highly populated area of Mexico City. Using the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 reported by the automatized network of environmental monitoring of Mexico City for the sampling site, we estimated exposure levels for people of different ages and gender. Two endocrine disrupting compounds, the phthalate esters DEHP and DnBP, were found on the particles in higher concentrations during the warmer months of the year. The highest concentration was reported for DEHP (229.7 μg/g of particles) in PM2.5 collected in May 2013. After calculations of the DEHP concentration in the atmosphere, and using the respiratory flow rate, we determined males were potentially exposed to larger quantities of DEHP, reaching up to 18 ng/8 h in April 2013. Despite the concentrations of phthalates seem to be rather small, a comprehensive characterization of its presence is necessary in order to evaluate the overall exposure to these compounds, providing a clear view of exposure on children, adolescents and pregnant women.