Introduction: Personal Care Products in the Aquatic Environment

  • Daniel Molins-DelgadoEmail author
  • M. Silvia Díaz-Cruz
  • Damià Barceló
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 36)


This chapter presents an overview of the main aspects relating to the occurrence and impact of ingredients in personal care products to the aquatic environment: methodologies of analysis, prevalence data, elimination processes, threats to the aquatic ecosystem, effects on biota and legislation with a special focus in European regulation. Water is a valuable resource for the environment as well as for human activities. Although it covers most of the Earth’s surface, the amount of usable water is finite. Since ancient times until now, the use of water in human activities has been rapidly increasing along with the increase of the population, producing a continuous release of pollutants into the aquatic environment. Personal care products are a widely used group of substances that have been raising concerns during the last decades due to its continuous release into the environment and its proven effects (mostly on in vitro and in vivo assays) as a threat to all kinds of living organisms. Recent studies suggest that its continuous application on the skin or the intake of contaminated food may cause some concerning hazardous effects in human beings. In order to ensure the protection of this key ecosystem, a series of worldwide initiatives have been taking place during the last two decades, impelling monitoring programmes and governmental regulations worldwide. The common grounds of the European Union establish a series of regulations, such as the Water Framework Directive or the Regulation on Cosmetic Products, to protect both the environment and the consumer with revisable lists of regulated hazardous compounds.


Aquatic environment Environmental legislation Health risk Personal care products Pollution sources 

List of Abbreviations


4-methylbenzylidiene camphor




Benzophenone 3


Benzophenone 4




Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate


European medicine evaluation agency


Environmental protection agency




International nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients


Octanol-water partition coefficient




Nonylphenol ethoxylates






Personal care products


Polyvinyl chloride


Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restrictions of chemicals








Water framework directive


World water forum


Wastewater treatment plant



This work has been financially supported by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Consolidated Research Groups “2014 SGR 418 - Water and Soil Quality Unit”).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Molins-Delgado
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Silvia Díaz-Cruz
    • 1
  • Damià Barceló
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ChemistryIDAEA-CSICBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)Parc Científic i Tecnològic de la Universitat de GironaGironaSpain

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