The concentrations of phthalates in settled dust in Bulgarian homes in relation to building characteristic and cleaning habits in the family
Phthalate esters are chemical compounds with a broad range of applications. Recently, we have shown that significantly higher dust concentration of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) was found in Bulgarian homes of children with asthma or allergies compared to healthy children. The concentration of DEHP was found to be significantly associated with wheezing in the last 12 months as reported by parents. The objective of the current study was to examine the associations between concentrations of phthalates in settled dust collected in Bulgarian homes and building characteristics and cleaning habits. Dust samples from the child's bedroom were collected in 177 homes and analysed for the content of dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), di- n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) and DEHP. Information on building characteristics and family habits were collected from parental reports in questionnaires and from inspectors' observations in the homes. Significantly higher concentrations of BBzP, DEHP and DnOP in indoor dust were found in homes where polishing agents were used, compared to homes where such products were not used. The highest concentrations of DEHP, BBzP and DnOP were found in homes with the combination of a low frequency of dusting and the use of polish. There was no difference in phthalate concentrations between inspector-observed balatum flooring (PVC or linoleum) and wood flooring as well as between PVC, as determined by Raman spectra, and wood flooring. However, in a sub-group of homes with no use of polish, the concentration of DEHP was higher in homes with inspector-observed balatum compared with wood flooring but the difference was not significant may be due to a too small sample size.