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Co-exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors in the US population

Chen, Lin, Luo, Kai, Etzel, Ruth, Zhang, Xiaoyu, Tian, Ying, Zhang, Jun
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.8 pp. 7665-7676
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, bioactive properties, cadmium, cluster analysis, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, epidemiological studies, humans, mercury, perfluorocarbons, pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, United States
Exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors (EEDs) has been linked to adverse health outcomes. The vast majority of studies examined one class of EEDs at a time but humans often are exposed to multiple EEDs at the same time. It is, therefore, important to know the co-exposure status of multiple EEDs in an individual, to preclude and control for potential confounding effects posed by co-exposed EEDs. This study examined the concentrations of seven classes of EEDs in the US population utilizing the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2009–2014 survey cycles. We applied linear correlation and cluster analysis to characterize the correlation profile and cluster patterns of these EEDs. We found that EEDs with a similar structure are often highly correlated. Among between-class correlations, mercury and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and cadmium and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were two significantly correlated EEDs. In epidemiologic studies, measurement and control for co-exposure to pollutants, especially those with similar biological effects, are critical when attempting to make causal inferences. Appropriate statistical methods to handle within- and between-class correlations are needed.