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Environ Sci Technol. 2014;48(15):8881-90. doi: 10.1021/es501744v. Epub 2014 Jul 9.

Variability and predictors of urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites during early childhood.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Brown University , Providence, Rhode Island 02912, United States.


The variability and predictors of urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites in preschool-aged children have not been thoroughly examined. Additionally, the impact of temporal changes in the use and restriction of phthalates in children's products has not been assessed. Our objective was to identify demographic, behavioral, and temporal predictors of urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations in young children. Between 2004 and 2011, we collected up to five urine samples from each of 296 children participating in a prospective birth cohort during annual study visits at ages 1-5 years. We used linear mixed models to calculate intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), a measure of within-individual reproducibility, and identify demographic predictors of urinary phthalate metabolites. We used multivariable linear regression to examine cross-sectional relationships between food packaging or personal care product use and phthalate metabolites measured at age 5 years. Across annual measurements, monoethyl phthalate exhibited the least variation (ICC = 0.38), while di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (ΣDEHP) metabolites exhibited the most variation (ICC = 0.09). Concentrations changed with age, suggesting age-related changes in phthalate exposure and perhaps metabolism. Our findings suggest that fast food consumption may be a source of butylbenzyl phthalate and di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP) exposure, and some personal care products may be sources of diethyl phthalate exposure. Concentrations of ΣDEHP metabolites decreased over the study period; however, concentrations of DiNP metabolites increased. This finding suggests that manufacturer practices and regulations, like the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, may decrease DEHP exposure, but additional work characterizing the nature and toxicity of replacements is critically needed.

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