Many phthalates, parabens and phenols are suspected to have endocrine-disrupting properties in humans. They are found in consumer products, including food wrapping, cosmetics and building materials. The foetus is particularly vulnerable and exposure to these chemicals therefore is of concern for pregnant women. We investigated current exposure to several commonly used phthalates, parabens and phenols in healthy, pregnant Danish women. A total of 200 spot urine samples were collected between 8 and 30 weeks of gestation and analysed for metabolites of ten phenols, seven parabens and 16 phthalate by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry representing 26 non-persistent compounds. The majority of analytes were present in the urine sample collected from most women who participated. Thus, in 174 of the 200 women, metabolites of more than 13 (>50%) of 26 compounds were detected simultaneously. The number of compounds detected per woman (either as the parent compound or its metabolite(s)) ranged from 7 to 21 with a median of 16. The majority of compounds correlated positively with each other within and between chemical groups, suggesting combined exposure sources. Estimated daily intakes (DIs) of phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) were below their individual tolerable DI (TDI) and with hazard quotients below 1. In conclusion, we found detectable levels of phthalate metabolites, parabens and phenols in almost all pregnant women, suggesting combined multiple exposures. Although the estimated DI of phthalates and BPA for an individual was below TDI, our results still raise concern, as current toxicological risk assessments in humans do not take into account simultaneous exposure. The true cumulative risk for the foetus may therefore be underestimated.
Katrine Tefre de Renzy-Martin, Hanne Frederiksen, Jeppe Schultz Christensen, Henriette Boye Kyhl, Anna-Maria Andersson, Steffen Husby, Torben Barington, Katharina M Main and Tina Kold Jensen
Hanne Frederiksen, Tina Kold Jensen, Niels Jørgensen, Henriette Boye Kyhl, Steffen Husby, Niels E Skakkebæk, Katharina M Main, Anders Juul and Anna-Maria Andersson
Several non-persistent industrial chemicals have shown endocrine disrupting effects in animal studies and are suspected to be involved in human reproductive disorders. Among the non-persistent chemicals that have been discussed intensively during the past years are phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan (TCS), and parabens because of their anti-androgenic and/or estrogenic effects. Phthalates are plasticizers used in numerous industrial products. Bisphenol A is the main component of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Parabens and TCS are antimicrobial preservatives and other phenols such as benzophenone-3 (BP-3) act as a UV-screener, while chlorophenols and phenyl phenols are used as pesticides and fungicides in agriculture. In spite of the widespread use of industrial chemicals, knowledge of exposure sources and human biomonitoring studies among different segments of the population is very limited. In Denmark, we have no survey programs for non-persistent environmental chemicals, unlike some countries such as the USA (NHANES) and Germany (GerES). However, we have analyzed the excretion of seven parabens, nine phenols, and the metabolites of eight different phthalates in urine samples collected over the past 6 years from four Danish cohorts. Here, we present biomonitoring data on more than 3600 Danish children, adolescents, young men, and pregnant women from the general population. Our study shows that nearly all Danes were exposed to the six most common phthalates, to BPA, TCS, and BP-3, and to at least two of the parabens. The exposure to other non-persistent chemicals was also widespread. Our data indicate decreasing excretion of two common phthalates (di-n-butyl phthalate and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) over time.