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Wenzel et al., 2018

Wenzel, A. G., Brock, J. W., Cruze, L., Newman, R. B., Unal, E. R., Wolf, B. J., Somerville, S. E., & Kucklick, J. R.; “Prevalence and predictors of phthalate exposure in pregnant women in Charleston, SC;” Chemosphere, 2018, 193, 394-402; DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.11.019.


Phthalates are plasticizers commonly detected in human urine due to widespread exposure from PVC plastics, food packaging, and personal care products. Several phthalates are known antiandrogenic endocrine disruptors, which raises concern for prenatal exposure during critical windows of fetal development. While phthalate exposure is ubiquitous, certain demographics are subject to greater or lesser exposure. We sampled urine from 378 pregnant women during the second trimester of gestation living in Charleston, SC, and measured eight urinary phthalate metabolites as biomarkers of phthalate exposure: monobutyl phthalate (MBP), monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP), mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP), monoisobutyl phthalate (MiBP), and monomethyl phthalate (MMP). Demographic data was collected from questionnaires administered at the time of specimen collection. All phthalate metabolites were detected in over 93% of urine samples. On average, concentrations were highest for MEP (median = 47.0 ng/mL) and lowest for MMP (median = 1.92 ng/mL). Sociodemographic characteristics associated with elevated phthalate concentrations included being unmarried, less educated, having a low income, high body mass index (BMI), and/or being African American. After racial stratification, age, BMI, education, and income were significantly associated with phthalate concentrations in African American women. Marital status was associated with phthalate concentrations in Caucasian women only, with greater concentrations of MBP, MEHHP, MiBP, and MMP in unmarried versus married women. Results of this cross-sectional study provide evidence for significant racial and demographic variations in phthalate exposure. FULL TEXT

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