The effects of phthalate ester exposure on human health: A review

Wei Hsiang Chang, Samuel Herianto, Ching Chang Lee, Hsin Hung, Hsiu Ling Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Phthalate esters (PAEs) are one of the most widely used plasticizers in polymer products and humans are increasingly exposed to them. The constant exposure to PAEs-contained products has raised some concerns against human health. Thus, the impacts of PAEs and their metabolites on human health require a comprehensive study for a better understanding of the associated risks. Here, we attempt to review eight main health effects of PAE exposure according to the most up-to-date studies. We found that epidemiological studies demonstrated a consistent association between PAE exposure (especially DEHP and its metabolites) and a decrease in sperm quality in males and symptom development of ADHD in children. Overall, we found insufficient evidence and lack of consistency of the association between PAE exposure and cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, atherosclerosis, and CHD), thyroid diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, obesity, kidney diseases, intelligence performance in children, and other reproductive system-related diseases (anogenital distance, girl precocious puberty, and endometriosis). Future studies (longitudinal and follow-up investigations) need to thoroughly perform in large-scale populations to yield more consistent and powerful results and increase the precision of the association as well as enhance the overall understanding of potential human health risks of PAEs in long-term exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147371
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept 10

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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