Urinary parabens and their potential sources of exposure among Korean children and adolescents: Korean National Environmental Health Survey 2015–2017

Sooyeon Hong, Hye Li Jeon, Jueun Lee, Suejin Kim, Chulwoo Lee, Seungho Lee, Yoon Hee Cho, Kyungho Choi, Jiyoung Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Parabens are used as a preservative in several consumer products including cosmetics, personal care products, and medicinal products. These chemicals have been suspected for estrogenicity and potential adverse endocrine outcomes in humans. For the first time, exposure profiles and potential sources of major parabens are investigated for a nationally representative population of children and adolescents of Korea. In addition, major determinants of urinary paraben levels were identified. For this purpose, the children, and adolescents (n = 2355, 3–18 years of age) who participated in the Korean National Environmental Health Survey cycle 3 (2015–2017) were studied. Adjusted multiple linear regression models were employed to investigate the relationships of several potential demographic and behavioral determinants of exposure, with the urinary levels of three parabens; methyl, ethyl, and propyl paraben. Methyl and propyl paraben levels of the Korean children and adolescents were comparable to those of the US, but the high exposure group (95th percentile) showed much higher levels of exposure. Moreover, urinary ethyl paraben levels are always higher than those of other countries. The uses of personal care products including liquid soaps, fragrance products, nail polish, or antiseptic products were significantly associated with urinary paraben levels. In addition, dietary sources such as fast food and canned food consumption were identified as major contributors to ethyl paraben levels. For methyl and propyl parabens, the use of fever medications and ointments were identified as major determinants of the exposure, especially among the younger children of 3–5 years of age. These observations are related to the Korean regulations that permit the use of the parabens as preservatives in foods and medications. The findings demonstrate that the exposure profile of parabens among Korean children are unique, and mitigation efforts for some parabens are required in Korea. Further studies are warranted to confirm the exposure sources of parabens and to develop mitigation measures among Korean children and adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113781
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Biomonitoring
  • Ethyl paraben
  • KoNEHS cycle 3
  • Methyl paraben
  • Parabens
  • Propyl paraben


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