Phthalates leaching from plastic food and pharmaceutical contact materials by FTIR and GC-MS


Phthalates are often used as plasticizers in the production of plastic food contact materials (FCMs) and pharmaceutical contact materials (PCMs), and having in mind that they are not bound to plastics, phthalates may easily leach from plastics under certain conditions. The aim of this research is determination of phthalates leaching potential from different plastic materials and quantitative determination of 5 phthalates (dimethyl phthalate (DMP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), diethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DOP)) in 44 different plastic articles of 7 different plastic polymers used as FCMs and PCMs by FTIR, GC-MS, and gravimetric methods. The FTIR technique is shown to be rapid method for determination of phthalate content in PVC articles. Comparing of FTIR method with GC-MS and gravimetric showed that separation and quantitative determination of each phthalate separately favor the GC-MS method, because FTIR method determines the total amount of phthalate content. However, the FTIR method is less expensive and demanding in terms of sample preparation, which is suited for use in pre-screening analysis. The results of GC-MS phthalates determination showed that PVC articles used as PCMs contain DEHP in significant amount, from 5.19 to 28.76% by weight and could be a potential risk to human health.

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Data availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This work received support from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia under contract no. 451-03-68/2020-14/200124.

Author information




All authors contributed to the study conception and design. GK contributed to the study conception in specifying the significance of problem arriving with presence of phthalates in food and pharmaceutical, exposure routes, and health issues. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by TA, DB, IV, and RP. GN analyzed FTIR spectra of investigated articles. TA was a main contributor in writing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tatjana Andjelković.

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Andjelković, T., Bogdanović, D., Kostić, I. et al. Phthalates leaching from plastic food and pharmaceutical contact materials by FTIR and GC-MS. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021).

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  • Phthalates determination
  • Food contact materials
  • Pharmaceutical contact materials
  • Leaching potential
  • GC-MS
  • FTIR