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      Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the United States: NHANES 2003–2004


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          Exposure to chemicals during fetal development can increase the risk of adverse health effects, and while biomonitoring studies suggest pregnant women are exposed to chemicals, little is known about the extent of multiple chemicals exposures among pregnant women in the United States.


          We analyzed biomonitoring data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) to characterize both individual and multiple chemical exposures in U.S. pregnant women.


          We analyzed data for 163 chemical analytes in 12 chemical classes for subsamples of 268 pregnant women from NHANES 2003–2004, a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population. For each chemical analyte, we calculated descriptive statistics. We calculated the number of chemicals detected within the following chemical classes: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), organochlorine pesticides, and phthalates and across multiple chemical classes. We compared chemical analyte concentrations for pregnant and nonpregnant women using least-squares geometric means, adjusting for demographic and physiological covariates.


          The percentage of pregnant women with detectable levels of an individual chemical ranged from 0 to 100%. Certain polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, PFCs, phenols, PBDEs, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and perchlorate were detected in 99–100% of pregnant women. The median number of detected chemicals by chemical class ranged from 4 of 12 PFCs to 9 of 13 phthalates. Across chemical classes, median number ranged from 8 of 17 chemical analytes to 50 of 71 chemical analytes. We found, generally, that levels in pregnant women were similar to or lower than levels in nonpregnant women; adjustment for covariates tended to increase levels in pregnant women compared with nonpregnant women.


          Pregnant women in the U.S. are exposed to multiple chemicals. Further efforts are warranted to understand sources of exposure and implications for policy making.

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          Exposure of the U.S. Population to Bisphenol A and 4-tertiary-Octylphenol: 2003–2004

          Background Bisphenol A (BPA) and 4-tertiary-octylphenol (tOP) are industrial chemicals used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins (BPA) and nonionic surfactants (tOP). These products are in widespread use in the United States. Objectives We aimed to assess exposure to BPA and tOP in the U.S. general population. Methods We measured the total (free plus conjugated) urinary concentrations of BPA and tOP in 2,517 participants ≥ 6 years of age in the 2003–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey using automated solid-phase extraction coupled to isotope dilution–high-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Results BPA and tOP were detected in 92.6% and 57.4% of the persons, respectively. Least square geometric mean (LSGM) concentrations of BPA were significantly lower in Mexican Americans than in non-Hispanic blacks (p = 0.006) and non-Hispanic whites (p = 0.007); LSGM concentrations for non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites were not statistically different (p = 0.21). Females had statistically higher BPA LSGM concentrations than males (p = 0.043). Children had higher concentrations than adolescents (p $45,000/year). Conclusions Urine concentrations of total BPA differed by race/ethnicity, age, sex, and household income. These first U.S. population representative concentration data for urinary BPA and tOP should help guide public health research priorities, including studies of exposure pathways, potential health effects, and risk assessment.
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            Environmental exposures and adverse pregnancy outcomes: a review of the science.

            To better understand the science linking environmental contaminants exposures with adverse pregnancy outcomes, we reviewed the relevant epidemiologic literature. We searched PubMed (primarily 1995-2006) using the key word combinations for select environmental exposures and pregnancy outcomes. Environmental tobacco smoke is a risk factor for reduced birth weight and preterm delivery. Outdoor air pollution is associated with reduced term birth weight and preterm delivery. Suggestive evidence associates pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls with decreased fetal growth and length of gestation. Stronger evidence, primarily occupational, links certain birth defects with exposure to organic solvents and chlorophenoxy herbicides. Evidence suggests dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and bisphenol-A could be associated with pregnancy loss. Exposures in utero can also increase the risk of developmental delays (ie, impaired neurological function), adult chronic illnesses (ie, heart disease, diabetes, cancer), and next generation effects (ie, reduced reproductive capacity). Further research, education, and improved public health policy are needed to reduce potentially adverse exposures.
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              Serum concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) in the United States population: 2003-2004.

              Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and 2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexabromobiphenyl (BB-153) are chemicals known as brominated flame retardants. We have assessed the exposure status of the United States population to PBDEs and BB-153 and explored associations with demographic information, including participants' age, sex, and race/ethnicity. A total of 2,062 serum samples, from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 aged 12 years and older, were analyzed for PBDEs and BB-153; stratified and regression analyses were used to examine levels among demographic groups. The congener with the highest serum concentration was 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) [geometric mean 20.5 ng/g lipid]; followed by 2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexaBDE (BDE-153) [5.7 ng/g lipid]; 2,2',4,4',5-pentaBDE (BDE-99) [5.0 ng/g lipid; a value equal to the highest limit of detection for an individual sample]; 2,2',4,4',6-pentaBDE (BDE-100) [3.9 ng/g lipid]; BB-153 [2.3 ng/g lipid]; and 2,4,4'-triBDE (BDE-28) [1.2 ng/g lipid]. For BDE-47, we observed no significant difference in the least-squares geometric mean (LSGM) by sex, but with age we found both a linear decrease (p = 0.01) and a positive quadratic trend (p = 0.01). Its LSGM, 27.9 ng/lipid, in the 12-19 year olds decreased to 17.2 ng/g lipid in the 40-49 year group, and then curved upward to 20.4 ng/g lipid in the > or =60 years olds. Mexican Americans had the highest LSGM of BDE-47 (24.5 ng/g lipid), which was significantly higher than that of non-Hispanic whites (19.7 ng/g lipid, p = 0.01). Adults 60 years and older were twice as likely as adults 20-59 years old to have a serum BDE-47 concentration above the 95th percentile (p = 0.02). These data provide needed exposure assessment data for public health decisions.

                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                June 2011
                14 January 2011
                : 119
                : 6
                : 878-885
                Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, California, USA
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to T.J. Woodruff, Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, University of California–San Francisco, 1330 Broadway St., Suite 1100, Oakland, CA 94612 USA. Telephone: (510) 986-8942. Fax: (510) 986-8960. E-mail: woodrufft@ 123456obgyn.ucsf.edu

                The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.

                This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI.
                Children’s Health

                Public health
                pregnancy,nhanes,chemicals,environmental exposures
                Public health
                pregnancy, nhanes, chemicals, environmental exposures


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