Pilot study of urinary biomarkers of phytoestrogens, phthalates, and phenols in girls

Mary S. Wolff, Susan L. Teitelbaum, Gayle Windham, Susan M. Pinney, Julie A. Britton, Carol Chelimo, James Godbold, Frank Biro, Lawrence H. Kushi, Christine M. Pfeiffer, Antonia M. Calafat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


Background: Hormonally active environmental agents have been measured among U.S. children using exposure biomarkers in urine. However, little is known about their variation by race, age, sex, and geography, and no data exist for newly developed biomarkers. Objective: Our goal was to characterize relevant, prevalent exposures for a study of female pubertal development. Methods: In a pilot study among 90 girls from New York City, New York, Cincinnati, Ohio, and northern California, we measured 25 urinary analytes representing 22 separate agents from three chemical families: phytoestrogens, phthalates, and phenols. Exposures occur chiefly from the diet and from household or personal care products. Results: Participants represented four racial/ethnic groups (Asian, black, Hispanic, white), with mean age of 7.77 years. Most analytes were detectable in > 94% of samples. The highest median concentrations for individual analytes in each family were for enterolactone (298 μg/L), monoethylphthalate (MEP; 83.2 μg/L), and benzophenone-3 (BP3; 14.7 μg/ L). Few or no data have been reported previously for four metabolites: mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate, triclosan, bisphenol A (BPA), and BP3; these were detected in 67-100% of samples with medians of 1.8-53.2 μg/L. After multivariate adjustment, two analytes, enterolactone and BPA, were higher among girls with body mass index < 85th reference percentile than those at or above the 85th percentile. Three phthalate metabolites differed by race/ethnicity [MEP, mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, and mono-3-carboxypropylphthalate]. Conclusions: A wide spectrum of hormonally active exposure biomarkers were detectable and variable among young girls, with high maximal concentrations (> 1,000 μg/L) found for several analytes. They varied by characteristics that may be relevant to development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-121
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Children
  • Exposure
  • Phenols
  • Phthalates
  • Phytoestrogen
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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