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Correlation and temporal variability of urinary biomarkers of chemicals among couples: Implications for reproductive epidemiological studies

Nassan, Feiby L., Williams, Paige L., Gaskins, Audrey J., Braun, Joseph M., Ford, Jennifer B., Calafat, Antonia M., Hauser, Russ
Environment international 2019 v.123 pp. 181-188
benzophenones, biomarkers, child health, diet, epidemiological studies, females, hospitals, males, mercury, personal care products, phosphates, phthalates, primary contact, progeny, specific gravity, temporal variation, triclosan, Massachusetts
Exposure to some environmental chemicals is ubiquitous and linked to a variety of adverse outcomes, including children's health. While few studies have assessed the contribution of both male and female exposures to children's health, understanding the patterns of couple's exposure is needed to understand their joint effects.We assessed the correlation patterns between male and female partners' concentrations of 37 environmental chemical biomarkers. We also assessed the temporal reliability of the biomarkers within couples.We calculated Spearman pairwise correlations between specific gravity adjusted urinary biomarker concentrations and hair mercury concentrations among 380 couples enrolled in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center (2004–2017). We calculated intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) for couple's biomarkers to assess the temporal variability of these exposures within a couple using multiple paired-samples from couples.All biomarkers were positively correlated within couples (range: 0.05 for tert-butylphenyl phenyl phosphate to 0.66 for triclosan). In general, the biomarkers with the highest within couple correlation were those of chemicals for which diet (e.g., di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate), personal care products use (e.g., triclosan, benzophenone-3), and the indoor environment (e.g., 2,5-dichlorophenol) are considered primary exposure sources. Most other biomarkers were moderately correlated (0.3–<0.6). Similar patterns of temporal reliability were observed across biomarkers.Urinary concentrations of several biomarkers were mostly moderately correlated within couples, suggesting similar exposure sources. Future epidemiological studies should collect samples from both partners to be able to accurately determine the contribution of maternal and paternal exposures to offspring health.