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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2014 Nov;24(6):595-601. doi: 10.1038/jes.2013.93. Epub 2014 Jan 22.

Temporal variability of urinary di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate metabolites during a dietary intervention study.

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Silent Spring Institute, Newton, Massachusetts, USA.
Breast Cancer Fund, San Francisco, California, USA.
Department of Psychology, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, USA.


Exposure to di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) may be related to adverse health effects including developmental and reproductive disorders, prompting interest in strategies for reducing human exposure. We previously reported a reduction of DEHP metabolite levels in composite urine samples by more than 50% (geometric means) during a 3-day dietary intervention avoiding plastics in food packaging, preparation, and storage. In the present study, we analyzed individual spot urine samples before compositing in order to evaluate temporal variability. There were no meaningful changes in any of the previous findings when using individual rather than composited samples. Individual urine samples, like the composites, showed significant decreases of ≥50% in all three measured DEHP metabolites during the intervention. Compositing urine samples provided sufficient information to observe the effect of the intervention, whereas reducing analytical expenses compared with analyzing multiple samples individually. Low intraclass correlations (ICCs) for samples collected from the same person before the intervention indicate the importance of collecting multiple samples per exposure condition. Substantially larger ICCs during and after the intervention suggest that much of the variability observed in DEHP metabolite levels originates from dietary exposure.

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