Determinants of exposure levels, metabolism, and health risks of phthalates among pregnant women in Wuhan, China

Jiufeng Li, Xi Qian, Hongzhi Zhao, Yanqiu Zhou, Shunqing Xu, Yuanyuan Li, Li Xiang, Jingchun Shi, Wei Xia, Zongwei CAI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Concerns on minimizing health risks of phthalates have been raised due to their widespread exposure and well-documented endocrine disrupting properties, but the determinants of levels, metabolism, and health risks of phthalate exposures have not been thoroughly characterized among the Chinese population, particularly pregnant women. The metabolites of five phthalates were analyzed: diethyl (DEP), diisobutyl (DiBP), di-n-butyl (DnBP), di-(2-ethylhexyl) (DEHP), and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBzP) were analyzed in urine samples collected from 946 mothers in Wuhan during 2014–2015. We applied linear mixed models to investigate the relationships between biomarkers (e.g., urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites, phthalates, and ratios of metabolites) and factors including sampling seasons and epidemiological characteristics. We calculated estimated daily intake (EDI) using average phthalate concentrations over three trimesters and hazard index (HI) by dividing EDI by tolerance daily intake. About 24.9% of participants were at health risks with HI > 1. The largest health risks were driven by one specific phthalate (DnBP or DEHP). We observed lower urinary levels of phthalate metabolites in winter. Elevated levels were found in mothers with higher education levels or those employed. Mothers who got pregnant on purpose had lower phthalate concentrations than those got pregnant by accident. More recent exposure to phthalates was observed among groups of mothers giving birth to girls, or those who got excessive gestational weight gain. Younger mothers were more susceptible to phthalate exposure. This repeated measurement study suggests that the intervention should be taken to limit application and production of DnBP and DEHP, and highlights that typical demographic factors should be taken into account in demographic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109657
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese pregnant women
  • Cumulative health risks
  • Determinants
  • Phthalate metabolism
  • Phthalate metabolites


Dive into the research topics of 'Determinants of exposure levels, metabolism, and health risks of phthalates among pregnant women in Wuhan, China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this