Kurunthachalam Kannan and Ying Guo point out that the substances called phthalates and parabens are used in a wide range of products, from medical devices to children's toys, as well as PCPs. Phthalates hold in moisture; parabens are used as preservatives.
Research suggests a link between these substances and health issues in animals and people, such as sperm damage, breast cancer and an increased risk for asthma.
In previous studies, Kannan's team found that food and indoor dust contributed to phthalate exposure to varying degrees, but paraben exposure was low. Now it was time for them to look at a third route of possible exposure - the use of PCPs.
They collected 170 samples of makeup, lotions, shampoos and other products, including 20 items for babies, and tested them for nine phthalates and six parabens. Both substances were found in PCPs.
In baby products, phthalate concentrations were low, but parabens were common. When the researchers calculated possible exposure levels, they estimated that the potential daily skin exposure to parabens by infants and toddlers could be as much as two to three times higher than that for adult women.
The study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology.