Environmental Risk Assessment of Personal Care Products

  • Babu Rajendran RamaswamyEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 36)


Extensive usage and continuous release of personal care products (PCPs) lead to ubiquitous contamination of aquatic environment. As PCPs are mainly intended for external use on the human body, they are not subjected to metabolic alterations; therefore, large quantities enter the environment as such. Being biologically active and persistent, they are expected to pose a wide range of risks to aquatic habitat. Although studies on environmental concentration and toxicity endpoints are available for many PCPs, environmental risk assessment (ERA) was scantily reported. It was observed that most of the ERAs were based on hazard/risk quotient approach and not following three-tier approach due to lack of sufficient toxicological data (i.e., long-term toxicity at environmentally relevant (ppt–ppb) concentrations). From the ERA reports, it was understood that disinfectants, triclosan and triclocarban, cause high risk to aquatic organisms. In case of preservatives (parabens), the risk was low. Some fragrances (synthetic musks) and UV filters were also shown to be toxic in the aquatic habitat; however, majority of them are categorized as less risky. Other than the risk to macro forms, the antibacterial PCPs are likely to affect the community structure of nontarget (nonpathogenic) bacteria and may aid in developing (multidrug) resistance among pathogenic and nonpathogenic species. Therefore, for better risk assessment, environmentally relevant studies on nontarget organisms are to be given due importance, and it may include interactions of chemical mixture, degradation products, and bioavailability criterion as well.


Antimicrobials Bacterial resistance Environmental risk assessment Hazard quotient Personal care products 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Biotechnology School of Environmental SciencesBharathidasan UniversityTiruchirappalliIndia

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