Skip Navigation Links
Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management
António Mendes Lopes (editor), Jiazhong Zhang(editor)
António Mendes Lopes (editor)

University of Porto, Portugal


Jiazhong Zhang (editor)

School of Energy and Power Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province 710049, China

Fax: +86 29 82668723 Email:

Environmental Health Risk Assessment of Phthalic Acid Esters in Drinking Water Source Catchments of South China

Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management 7(1) (2019) 73--85 | DOI:10.5890/JEAM.2019.03.006

Tao He$^{1}$, Huaiyang Fang$^{1}$, Wei Guan$^{2}$, Zhenyu Luan$^{3}$, Dongyang Wei$^{1}$, Jiajun Fan$^{1}$

$^{1}$ South China Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Guangzhou, 510535, China

$^{2}$ Research Institute of Tropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Guangzhou, 510520, China

$^{3}$ Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, Ministry of Water Resources, Nanjing, 210029, China

Download Full Text PDF



In recent years, phthalic acid esters (PAEs) have been widely detected in drinking water sources in China, threatening environmental health and has therefore become an urgent demand for environmental health risk assessment. Through the analysis of water quality testing at a South China backup water source, we detected PAEs. The results show that the PAE class pollutants, phthalic acid n-butyl acetate (DBP), phthalate (2-) ethyl hexyl ester (DOP) and diethyl phthalate (DEP), are detected at all sampling points, with DOP concentrations higher than that of DBP and DEP. The quantified concentration of the three PAE pollutants in the drinking water catchment area is higher than that of other drinking water sources in other towns in the basin, and the concentration is also above the median-level in similar areas at home and abroad. DOP is the primary PAE pollutant controlled by domestic demand in the catchment area. In this paper, we made an environmental health risk assessment for the PAE class of organic pollutants in the backup water source using the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) method. The results show that the carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic risk values associated with PAEs for the water source are less than the provisions of USEPA but that the PAE concentrations are elevated relative to domestic and similar foreign water sources. Given the potential health risks of PAEs, water environment risk management should guard against the possible sources of PAEs.


This work was founded by the (1) Fundamental Research Program for the state level PublicWelfare Research Institutions (PM-zx097-201602-059); (2) Science and Technology Program of Guangdong, China(2017A020216003); and (3) National Science and technology major project ”Water pollution control and government” (2015ZX07204-002-03).


  1. [1]  Call, D.J.,Markee, T.P., Geiger, D.L., Brooke, L.T., VandeVenter, F.A., Cox, D.A., Genisot, K.I., Robillard. K.A., Gorsuch, J.W., Parkerton, T.F., Reiley, M.C., Ankley, G.T. and Mount, D.R. (2001), An assessment of the toxicity of phthalate esters to freshwater benthos, Aqueous exposures, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 20(8), 1798-1804.
  2. [2]  Chen, Q. (2000), Environmental pollution and health effects-health risk assessment method, Peking University Press, Beijing, China.
  3. [3]  Crawford-Brown, D.J. (1997), Theoretical and mathematica1 foundations of human health risk analysis: biophysical theory of environmental health science, New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  4. [4]  David, J.B. (2008), A framework for integrated environmental health impact assessment of systemic risks, Environmental Health, 7, 61.
  5. [5]  Dong, J.Y., Wang, S.G., and Shang, K.Z. (2010), Health risk assessment of phthalates in Lanzhou section of the Yellow River, Journal of Agricultural Environmental Science, 29(5), 963-968 (in Chinese).
  6. [6]  Elom, N.I., Entwistle, J.A., and Dean, J.R. (2013), How safe is the playground? An environmental health risk assessment of As and Pb levels in school playing fields in NE England, Environmental Chemistry Letters, 11(4), 343-351.
  7. [7]  EPA (2010), New assessments or under external peer-review [EB/OL]., 2010-04- 07.
  8. [8]  Fu, K.Y., Cheng, Y.H., Chio, C.P., and Liao, C.M. (2016), Probabilistic integrated risk assessment of human exposure risk to environmental bisphenol A pollution sources, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 23(19), 19897-19910.
  9. [9]  Gao, X., Yu, Z.X., Guo, J.S., Li, H.M., Guo, S.,Wang, F.Q., Lu, L., and Hu, Q. (2011), Ozone - BAC process phthalates in drinking water removal in the pilot study, Journal of Environmental Engineering, 5(8), 1773-1778 (in Chinese).
  10. [10]  Guangdong press station, China Daily (2013). Guangdong health work conference. [EB/OL].
  11. [11]  Li, H.N., Zhu, X.P., Ji, Y., and Ni, J.R. (2010), Comparative electrochemical degradation of phthalic acid esters using boron-doped diamond and Pt anodes, Chemosphere, 80(8), 845-851.
  12. [12]  Rodriguez-Proteau, R. and Grant, R.L. (2005), Toxicity Evaluation and Human Health Risk Assessment of Surface and Ground Water Contaminated by Recycled Hazardous Waste Materials. In Kassim T A(eds). Environmental Impact Assessment of Recycled Wastes on Surface and Ground Waters; Risk Analysis. Berlin Heidelberg: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry 2, 133-189.
  13. [13]  Rovira, J., Nadal, M., Domingo, J.L., Tanaku, T., Suciu, N.A., Trevisan, M., Capri, E., Seguí, X., Darbra, R.M., and Schuhmacher,M. (2013), A Revision of current models for environmental and human health impact and risk assessment for application to emerging chemicals. In Bilitewski et al. (eds.), Global Risk-BasedManagement of Chemical Additives II: Risk-Based Assessment and Management Strategies, Berlin Heidelberg: The Handbook of EnvironmentalChemistry 23, 91-108.
  14. [14]  Satapathy, S. and Panda, C.R. (2018), Source identification, environmental risk assessment and human health risks asso ciated with toxic elements present in a coastal industrial environment, India, Environmental Geochemistry and Health,
  15. [15]  Simeonov, L.I. and Hassanien,M.A. (2009), Exposure and Risk Assessment of Chemical Pollution - ContemporaryMethodology, The Netherlands: Springer.
  16. [16]  Sousa, A.S., Duaví, W.C., Cavalcante, R.M., L. Milhome, M.A., and do Nascimento, L.F. (2016), Estimated levels of environmental contamination and health risk assessment for herbicides and insecticides in surface water of Ceara', Brazil, Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 96(1), 90-95.
  17. [17]  Suciu, N.A., Panizzi, S., Ciffroy, P., Ginebreda, A., Tediosi, A., Barcelo' D., and Capri, E. (2018), Evolution and future of human health and environmental risk assessment. In P. Ciffroy et al. (eds.), Modelling the Fate of Chemicals in the Environment and the Human Body, Berlin Heidelberg: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, 57, 1-21.
  18. [18]  Sun, C.Y., Zhang, J.Q., Ma, Q.Y., Chen, Y.N., and Ju, H.Y. (2017), Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in water and sediment from a river basin: sediment-water partitioning, source identification and environmental health risk assessment, Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 39(1), 63-74.
  19. [19]  Wan, Z.W., Kang, T.F., Zhou, Z.L., Li, P.N., and Zhang, Y. (2009), Health risk assessment of volatile organic compounds in the guanting reservoir in Beijing, China, Research of Environmental Sciences, 22(2), 150-154 (in Chinese).
  20. [20]  Wang, Q.L., Zhang, Z., and Liu, W. (2009), Tianjin drinking water source water environmental health risk assessment, Chinese Environmental Science and Technology, 32(5), 187-190 (in Chinese).
  21. [21]  Wang, R.S., Zhang, X., Xu, Q.J., Du, M.M., and Yan, C.Z. (2012), Health risk assessment of organic pollutants from drinking water sources in typical towns in Dongjiang river basin, Acta Scientiae Circumstantiae, 32(11), 2874-2883.
  22. [22]  Xu, C., Shu, W.Q., Luo, C.H., and Cao, J. (2007), Health risk assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and phthalates in the three gorges reservoir area, Research of Environmental Sciences, 5 57-60 (in Chinese).
  23. [23]  Yu, Y.J. (2011), Environmental pollution health risk assessment and management technology, Beijing: China Environmental Science Press.
  24. [24]  Zhao, X.G., Huang, N., Duan, X.L., Wang, B.B., Cao, X.Z., Nie, J., and Zhang, J.L. (2003), Skin exposure parameters of environmental health risk assessment, Journal of Environment and Health, 20(5), 283-286 (in Chinese).
  25. [25]  Zhang, Y.H., Chen, B.H., Zheng, L.X., Chu, J.H., and Ding, X.C. (2003), Environmental samples phthalates measurement and analysis, Journal of Environment and Health. 20(5), 283-286 (in Chinese).