Prenatal exposures to phthalates among women in New York City and Krakow, Poland.

Experimental evidence has shown that certain phthalates can disrupt endocrine function and induce reproductive and developmental toxicity. However, few data are available on the extent of human exposure to phthalates during pregnancy. As part of the research being conducted by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, we have measured levels of phthalates in 48-hr personal air samples collected from parallel cohorts of pregnant women in New York, New York, (n = 30) and in Krakow, Poland (n = 30). Spot urine samples were collected during the same 48-hr period from the New York women (n = 25). The following four phthalates or their metabolites were measured in both personal air and urine: diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), and butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP). All were present in 100% of the air and urine samples. Ranges in personal air samples were as follows: DEP (0.26-7.12 microg/m3), DBP (0.11-14.76 microg/m3), DEHP (0.05-1.08 microg/m3), and BBzP (0.00-0.63 microg/m3). The mean personal air concentrations of DBP, di-isobutyl phthalate, and DEHP are higher in Krakow, whereas the mean personal air concentration of DEP is higher in New York. Statistically significant correlations between personal air and urinary levels were found for DEP and monoethyl phthalate (r = 0.42, p < 0.05), DBP and monobutyl phthalate (r = 0.58, p < 0.01), and BBzP and monobenzyl phthalate (r = 0.65, p < 0.01). These results demonstrate considerable phthalate exposures during pregnancy among women in these two cohorts and indicate that inhalation is an important route of exposure.

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