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Project Bibliography

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Jusko et al., 2012

Jusko, T. A., Klebanoff, M. A., Brock, J. W., & Longnecker, M. P.; “In-utero exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and cognitive development among infants and school-aged children;” Epidemiology, 2012, 23(5), 689-698; DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31825fb61d.


BACKGROUND: Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) continues to be used for control of infectious diseases in several countries. In-utero exposure to DDT and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) has been associated with developmental and cognitive impairment among children. We examined this association in an historical cohort in which the level of exposure was greater than in previous studies.

METHODS: The association of in-utero DDT and DDE exposure with infant and child neurodevelopment was examined in 1100 subjects in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, a prospective birth cohort enrolling pregnant women from 12 study centers in the United States from 1959 to 1965. Maternal DDT and DDE concentrations were measured in archived serum specimens. Infant mental and motor development was assessed at age 8 months using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, and child cognitive development was assessed at age 7 years, using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

RESULTS: Although levels of DDT and DDE were relatively high in this population (median DDT concentration, 8.9 mug/L; DDE, 24.5 mug/L), neither were related to Mental or Psychomotor Development scores on the Bayley Scales nor to Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient at 7 years of age. Categorical analyses showed no evidence of dose- response for either maternal DDT or DDE, and estimates of the association between continuous measures of exposure and neurodevelopment were indistinguishable from 0.

CONCLUSIONS: Adverse associations were not observed between maternal serum DDT and DDE concentrations and offspring neurodevelopment at 8 months or 7 years in this cohort. FULL TEXT

Duty et al., 2003

Duty, S. M., Singh, N. P., Silva, M. J., Barr, D. B., Brock, J. W., Ryan, L., Herrick, R. F., Christiani, D. C., & Hauser, R.; “The relationship between environmental exposures to phthalates and DNA damage in human sperm using the neutral comet assay;” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2003, 111(9), 1164-1169; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.5756.


Phthalates are industrial chemicals widely used in many commercial applications. The general population is exposed to phthalates through consumer products as well as through diet and medical treatments. To determine whether environmental levels of phthalates are associated with altered DNA integrity in human sperm, we selected a population without identified sources of exposure to phthalates. One hundred sixty-eight subjects recruited from the Massachusetts General Hospital Andrology Laboratory provided a semen and a urine sample. Eight phthalate metabolites were measured in urine by using high-performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry; data were corrected for urine dilution by adjusting for specific gravity. The neutral single-cell microgel electrophoresis assay (comet assay) was used to measure DNA integrity in sperm. VisComet image analysis software was used to measure comet extent, a measure of total comet length (micrometers); percent DNA in tail (tail%), a measure of the proportion of total DNA present in the comet tail; and tail distributed moment (TDM), an integrated measure of length and intensity (micrometers). For an interquartile range increase in specific gravity-adjusted monoethyl phthalate (MEP) level, the comet extent increased significantly by 3.6 micro m [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.74-6.47]; the TDM also increased 1.2 micro m (95% CI, -0.05 to 2.38) but was of borderline significance. Monobutyl, monobenzyl, monomethyl, and mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalates were not significantly associated with comet assay parameters. In conclusion, this study represents the first human data to demonstrate that urinary MEP, at environmental levels, is associated with increased DNA damage in sperm.  FULL TEXT

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

Silva et al., 2003

Silva, M. J., Malek, N. A., Hodge, C. C., Reidy, J. A., Kato, K., Barr, D. B., Needham, L. L., & Brock, J. W.; “Improved quantitative detection of 11 urinary phthalate metabolites in humans using liquid chromatography-atmospheric pressure chemical ionization tandem mass spectrometry;” Journal of Chromatography Part B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences, 2003, 789(2), 393-404.


Phthalates are widely used as industrial solvents and plasticizers, with global use exceeding four million tons per year. We improved our previously developed high-performance liquid chromatography-atmospheric pressure chemical ionization-tandem mass spectrometric (HPLC-APCI-MS/MS) method to measure urinary phthalate metabolites by increasing the selectivity and the sensitivity by better resolving them from the solvent front, adding three more phthalate metabolites, monomethyl phthalate (mMP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl)phthalate (mEOHP) and mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl)phthalate (mEHHP); increasing the sample throughput; and reducing the solvent usage. Furthermore, this improved method enabled us to analyze free un-conjugated mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (mEHP) by eliminating interferences derived from coelution of the glucuronide-bound, or conjugated form, of the mEHP on measurements of the free mEHP. This method for measuring phthalate metabolites in urine involves solid-phase extraction followed by reversed-phase HPLC-APCI-MS/MS using isotope dilution with (13)C(4) internal standards. We further evaluated the ruggedness and the reliability of the method by comparing measurements made by multiple analysts at different extraction settings on multiple instruments. We observed mMP, monoethyl phthalate (mEP), mono-n-butyl phthalate (mBP), monobenzyl phthalate (mBzP), mEHP, mEHHP and mEOHP in the majority of urine specimens analyzed with DEHP-metabolites mEHHP and mEOHP present in significantly higher amounts than mEHP.

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