Introduction

Musk is one of the most important fragrances used in various consumer products such as cosmetics, soaps and laundery detergents12. Since consumption cannot be met by natural sources and chemical synthesis of the natural odorous compounds (macrocyclic ketones and alcohole)3 is expensive, easier accessible substitutes were developed. The annual worldwide production rate of artificial musks is in the range of several thousand tons4.

Despite their similar odour, the compounds mainly used are structurally very different from the natural musk compounds.

Nitro musk are highly substituted benzenes with at least two of the sub-stituents being nitro groups. Musk xylene, the first synthetic musk still in use, is known already since 18885. It was followed by several similar nitro-aromatic compounds (Figurel). Nitro musks are highly lipophilic substances. The octanol-water partition coefficients are of similar order ofmag-nitude as those of some well-known environmental pollutants, e.g. lower chlorinated PCB (poychlorinated biphenyls)6. The identification of nitro musks in environmental samples indicated that they might be just as persistent and caused first doubts concerning the safety of these chemicals. Domestic wastewaters are assumed to be the major route ofenvironmental pollution. Musk xylene and musk ketone were detected in the aquatic environment at first in Japan in 19817. In the early 1990s, these compounds were also found in German surface water, fish and other aquatic organisms 8910 and for the first time in human fat and milk11,12 . These findings in connection with evidence for cancerogenic effects of musk xylene in animal experiments13^ to public concern and to a controversial discussion in view ofregulatory consequences. The production and use ofmusk xylene in Germany has decreased in recent years after the toiletries and detergent industries voluntarily stopped including it in their products14.

Polycyclic musk, i.e. highly substituted indane and tetraline derivatives (Figure 1), represent another group of industrially important synthetic musk odorants, which were introduced in the 1950s15. It has been presumed that the critical discussion about nitro musks is promoting their replacement by polycyclic musks16 .The share in the annual world production ofpolycyclic musks is increasing rapidy417. However, little is known about the environmental and toxicological properties of these compounds so far. HHCB and AHTN, the most frequently used representatives, have even higher octanol-water distribution coefficients than musk xylene indicating an even higher potency for bioconcentration1 8. Recently polycylic musks have also been found in surface water and fish19-2-20, as well as in human adipose tissue and milk2122.

Human milk is widely used to identify and monitor body burden of lipo-philic, persistent environmental pollutants in man. However, validated procedures are required to obtain reliable results23 .In particular, the methods used for fat extraction have been a matter of discussion24. Sample contamination is another critical point, especially in the case of synthetic musk com-

pounds25.

nitro musks nitro musks

musk xylene CAS No. 81-15-2

musk ketone CAS No. 81-14-1

musk moskene CAS No. 116-66-5

musk xylene CAS No. 81-15-2

musk ambrette CAS No. 83-66-9

musk ketone CAS No. 81-14-1

musk tibetene CAS No. 145-39-7

musk moskene CAS No. 116-66-5

musk ambrette CAS No. 83-66-9

musk tibetene CAS No. 145-39-7

poJycyclic musks

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