Contamination and human health risks of phthalate esters in vegetable and crop soils from the Huang-Huai-Hai region of China

Zhou, Bin; Zhao, Lixia; Sun, Yang; Li, Xiaojing; Weng, Liping; Li, Yongtao


The widespread presence of phthalate esters (PAEs) in a variety of agricultural inputs has led to PAE contamination in soils and farm products. The endocrine disruption and carcinogenicity of PAEs have attracted much attention. Our research investigated the characteristics of PAE pollution in the soils of vegetable fields and adjacent stable crop fields in four provinces/municipalities across a major agricultural production area in China. We found that the concentrations of PAEs in vegetable soils were not significantly higher than those in stable crop soils. The noncarcinogenic and carcinogenic risks from bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) to humans were calculated to represent the risk posed by PAEs. The results showed that diet was the main route for noncarcinogenic risks from PAEs in crop soil and vegetable soils. Because of the combined effect of the population dietary structure and the concentration of PAEs in soils, the noncarcinogenic risks from PAEs in crop soils were similar to or higher than those in vegetable soils. The same pattern was also applicable to the carcinogenic risk from DEHP. Low noncarcinogenic and carcinogenic risks posed by DEHP and DBP indicated that the current level of PAEs in soils did not decrease the safety of agricultural products in the Huang-Huai-Hai region. Stable crop soil, as a non-negligibly phthalate-polluted area, is worthy of as much attention as vegetable soil. This study provides scientific support for food safety risk assessment and control of PAE pollution in the main agricultural production areas in China.