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Concept: Plasticizer


The occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in saltwater bodies is relatively well studied, but nothing is known about their presence in most of the commercial salts that are widely consumed by humans across the globe. Here, we extracted MP-like particles larger than 149 μm from 17 salt brands originating from 8 different countries followed by the identification of their polymer composition using micro-Raman spectroscopy. Microplastics were absent in one brand while others contained between 1 to 10 MPs/Kg of salt. Out of the 72 extracted particles, 41.6% were plastic polymers, 23.6% were pigments, 5.50% were amorphous carbon, and 29.1% remained unidentified. The particle size (mean ± SD) was 515 ± 171 μm. The most common plastic polymers were polypropylene (40.0%) and polyethylene (33.3%). Fragments were the primary form of MPs (63.8%) followed by filaments (25.6%) and films (10.6%). According to our results, the low level of anthropogenic particles intake from the salts (maximum 37 particles per individual per annum) warrants negligible health impacts. However, to better understand the health risks associated with salt consumption, further development in extraction protocols are needed to isolate anthropogenic particles smaller than 149 μm.

Concepts: Water, Polymer, Carbon, Plastic, Polypropylene, Polyethylene, Plasticizer, Polyethylene terephthalate


Prenatal and early postnatal exposures to environmental factors are considered responsible for the increasing prevalence of allergic diseases. Although there is some evidence for allergy-promoting effects in children due to exposure to plasticizers like phthalates, findings of previous studies are inconsistent and lack mechanistic information.

Concepts: Phthalates, Phthalate, Plasticizer


Phthalates are ubiquitous chemicals linked to hormonal disruptions that affect reproduction and development. Multiple anti-androgenic phthalates exposure during fetal development can have greater impacts than individual exposure; thus, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommends them for cumulative assessment. Using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data (NHANES, 2001-2012), we developed a potency-weighted sum of daily intake (∑androgen-disruptor; µg/kg/day) of di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) based on NAS recommendations, and included diethyl phthalate (DEP) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) in additional metrics (2005-2012). We compared racial/ethnic differences in ∑androgen-disruptor among 2842 reproductive-aged women. In sensitivity analyses, we assessed the influence of potency assumptions, alternate urine dilution adjustment methods, and weighting phthalate metabolites directly rather than daily intake estimates of parent compounds. We found that DEHP contributed most to ∑androgen-disruptor (48-64%), and that ∑androgen-disruptor decreased over time. Black women generally had higher cumulative exposures than white women, although the magnitude and precision of the difference varied by model specification. Our approach provides a blueprint for combining chemical exposures linked to common adverse outcomes, and should be considered in future exposure, risk, and epidemiological studies.

Concepts: Phthalates, Phthalate, Diethyl phthalate, Plasticizer, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, Plasticizers, Diisononyl phthalate, Diisoheptyl phthalate


While ∼75% of commercially utilized polymers are semicrystalline, the generally low mechanical modulus of these materials, especially for those possessing a glass transition temperature below room temperature, restricts their use for structural applications. Our focus in this paper is to address this deficiency through the controlled, multiscale assembly of nanoparticles (NPs), in particular by leveraging the kinetics of polymer crystallization. This process yields a multiscale NP structure that is templated by the lamellar semicrystalline polymer morphology and spans NPs engulfed by the growing crystals, NPs ordered into layers in the interlamellar zone [spacing of [Formula: see text] (10-100 nm)], and NPs assembled into fractal objects at the interfibrillar scale, [Formula: see text] (1-10 μm). The relative fraction of NPs in this hierarchy is readily manipulated by the crystallization speed. Adding NPs usually increases the Young’s modulus of the polymer, but the effects of multiscale ordering are nearly an order of magnitude larger than those for a state where the NPs are not ordered, i.e., randomly dispersed in the matrix. Since the material’s fracture toughness remains practically unaffected in this process, this assembly strategy allows us to create high modulus materials that retain the attractive high toughness and low density of polymers.

Concepts: Sol-gel, Liquid, Materials science, Differential scanning calorimetry, Glass, Glass transition, Plasticizer, Physics of glass


Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a plasticizer widely used in the production of poly-(vinyl) chloride (PVC) materials. It is a reproductive and developmental toxicant in animals and a suspected endocrine modulator in humans. DEHP is not covalently bound within the PVC molecule, which is why migration into a suitable medium can be expected. Since application of infusion solutions is one of the most common medical treatments, the objective of this study was to determine the migration of phthalates from softened PVC storage bags into infusion solution in different time periods within one year from date of production using a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry method. The measured values of DEHP ranged between 0.22 and 14.00 µg l(-1) , but the unexpected presence of other phthalate esters was also detected. It was concluded that values obtained in infusion solutions match the reference data and represent a minor risk for the patient. The presence of other phthalate esters leads to the conclusion that the pharmacopeic requirement for polymer cleanness was not fully met. Since phthalate esters are among the most extensively used industrial chemicals and are widely distributed in the environment, special precautions and further monitoring should be conducted to minimize any possible health risks.

Concepts: Chemistry, Plastic, Phthalates, Phthalate, Plasticizer, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, Plasticizers, Diisononyl phthalate


Human exposure to phthalates was assessed through digestive and respiratory intakes. Six phthalates (DMP, DEP, DnBP, BBP, DEHP, DnOP) were investigated in drinking water, in current foodstuff and in ambient air. Digestive intake was prevailing (92 %) with a major contribution of food (95.5 %). Phthalate intake from water was mainly due to bottled water (60 %) in spite of the minor volume absorbed daily. From the respiratory tract, it was dominated by DEP: 30.3 ng kg(-1) bw day(-1) and the part played by indoor air prevailed. Total intake were as ng kg(-1) bw day(-1), for DEHP: 1458, DnBP: 191.8, BBP: 164.3, DEP: 107.7, DMP: 79.1.

Concepts: Water, Assessment, Phthalates, Phthalate, Bottled water, Plasticizer, Intake, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate


An electrostatic dry coating process based on a liquid pan coater was developed for enteric coating of tablets with Eudragit(®) L100-55. Two different liquid plasticizers of triethyl citrate (TEC) and PEG400 were used in the coating process. In contrast to TEC, PEG400 produced good powder adhesion and successful coating. DSC results showed that PEG 400 lowered the glass transition temperature (T(g)) of Eudragit(®) L100-55 to a greater extent than TEC at the same blend ratio, indicating that PEG400 was more effective in plasticizing the polymer. PEG 400 showed higher contact angle on both surfaces of tablet cores and coating powders as well as lower absorption into the tablet cores than TEC, suggesting that more PEG400 existed at the interface between tablet core and coating powders. The combination effects of higher plasticizing efficiency and more PEG400 available at the tablet surface produced higher plasticization of Eudragit(®) L100-55, leading to the successfully initial powder adhesion. The powder adhesion was further enhanced by the electrostatically assisted coating process, as confirmed by the higher coating level and coating efficiency with electrical charging (60 kV) than the ones without it (0 kV). The micrographs of scanning electron microscopy and in vitro drug release tests of the coated tablets showed that higher curing temperature and longer curing time led to enhanced film formation and acid resistance. The electrostatic dry coating process has been demonstrated to be a promising process for enteric coating of tablets.

Concepts: Electron, Pharmacology, Liquid, Differential scanning calorimetry, Scanning electron microscope, Glass transition, Coatings, Plasticizer


The emission of di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) from vinyl flooring (VF) was measured in specially designed stainless steel chambers. In duplicate chamber studies, the gas-phase concentration in the chamber increased slowly and reached a steady state level of 0.8-0.9 μg/m(3) after about 20 days. By increasing the area of vinyl flooring and decreasing that of the stainless steel surface within the chamber, the time to reach steady state was significantly reduced, compared to a previous study (1 month versus 5 months). The adsorption isotherm of DEHP on the stainless steel chamber surfaces was explicitly measured using solvent extraction and thermal desorption. The strong partitioning of DEHP onto the stainless steel surface was found to follow a simple linear relationship. Thermal desorption resulted in higher recovery than solvent extraction. Investigation of sorption kinetics showed that it takes several weeks for the sorption of DEHP onto the stainless steel surface to reach equilibrium. The content of DEHP in VF was measured at about 15% (w/w) using pressurized liquid extraction. The independently measured or calculated parameters were used to validate an SVOC emission model, with excellent agreement between model prediction and the observed gas-phase DEHP chamber concentrations.

Concepts: Adsorption, Phthalate, Solution, Steel, Stainless steel, Plasticizer, Polyvinyl chloride, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate


A method based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) combined with a pressurised liquid extraction (PLE) to determine four organophosphates, seven phthalate esters and bis(2-ethylhexyl) adipate in particulated material of harbour air samples has been developed. Some studies show that these compounds may cause hormone disrupting effects on human health. Moreover, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified benzyl butyl phthalate and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate as possible human carcinogens.The chromatographic time per run analysis is less than 15min and the complete separation of all compounds is achieved. The PLE was optimised with recoveries above 90% and the repeatability of the method with real samples is less than 11% (%RSD, n=4). The MDLs (0.004-0.4ngm(-3)) and MQLs (0.02-2ngm(-3)) are limited by the fact of some compounds are present in low levels in sampling blank filters.The method was successfully applied in several samples and most of the compounds under study were found. The most relevant values were the high concentration of di-iso-butyl phthalate (between 28 and 529ngm(-3)) and the significant concentration of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (between MQL and 22ngm(-3)). In addition, benzyl butyl phthalate was also detected in some samples but at low concentration levels (between MQL to 0.2ngm(-3)).

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Concentration, Chromatography, Analytical chemistry, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Phthalates, Phthalate, Plasticizer


Starch extruded in the presence of a plasticizer results in a material called thermoplastic starch (TPS). TPS mixed with poly(butylene adipate co-terephthalate) (PBAT), soybean oil (SO), and surfactant may result in films with improved mechanical properties due to greater hydrophobicity and compatibility among the polymers. This study characterized films produced from blends containing 65% TPS and 35% PBAT with SO added as compatibilizer. The Tween 80 was added to prevention of phase separation. The elongation and resistance were greater in the films with SO. The infrared spectra confirmed an increase in ester groups bonded to the PBAT and the presence of groups bonded to the starch ring, indicating TPS-SO and PBAT-SO interactions. The micrographs suggest that the films with SO were more homogenous. Thus, SO is considered to be a good compatibilizer for blends of TPS and PBAT.

Concepts: Ester, Soybean, Hydrolysis, Plasticizer, Paint