Mothers and children are related, even in exposure to chemicals present in common consumer products

Gudrun Koppen*, Eva Govarts, Guido Vanermen, Stefan Voorspoels, Malarvannan Govindan, Marie Christine Dewolf, Elly Den Hond, Pierre Biot, Ludwine Casteleyn, Marike Kolossa-Gehring, Gerda Schwedler, Jürgen Angerer, Holger M. Koch, Birgit K. Schindler, Argelia Castaño, Marta Esteban López, Ovnair Sepai, Karen Exley, Louis Bloemen, Lisbeth E. KnudsenReinhard Joas, Anke Joas, Greet Schoeters, Adrian Covaci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan (TCS) are detectable in the vast majority of people. Most humans are continuously exposed to these chemicals due to their presence in food or in everyday consumer products. The measurement of these compounds in family members may help to explore the impact of major lifestyle factors on exposure. Mothers and (young) children are especially interesting to study, as they mostly share considerable parts of daily life together. Materials and methods: Phthalate metabolites, bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan (TCS) were measured in first morning void urine, collected in mother-child pairs (n = 129) on the same day. The mothers (27-45y) and their children (6-11y) were recruited in the Brussels agglomeration and rural areas of Belgium in the context of the European COPHES-DEMOCOPHES human biomonitoring project. Face-to-face questionnaires gathered information on major exposure sources and lifestyle factors. Exposure determinants were assessed by multiple linear regression analysis. Results: The investigated compounds were detectable in nearly all mothers (92.8–100%) and all children (95.2–100%). The range (P90 vs. P10) of differences in urinary concentrations within each age group was for most compounds around 10–20 fold, and was very high for TCS up to 35 and 350-fold in children and mothers respectively. Some participants exceeded the tolerable daily intake guidelines as far as they were available from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Overall, for BPA, the urinary concentrations were similar among both age groups. Most urinary phthalate metabolites were higher in children compared to the mothers, except for monoethyl phthalate (MEP). TCS levels were generally higher in the mothers. Despite the difference in mothers' and children's urinary concentrations, the creatinine-corrected levels were correlated for all biomarkers (Spearman rank r = 0.32 to 0.66, p < 0.001). Furthermore, for phthalates, similar home and lifestyle factors were associated with the urinary concentrations in both age groups: home renovation during last two years or redecoration during the last year for di-ethyl phthalate (DEP); PVC in home for di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), di-iso-butyl phthalate (DiBP) and butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), and personal care products use for DiBP and DnBP. Based on questionnaire information on general food type consumption patterns, the exposure variability could not be explained. However, comparing the phthalate intake from the current study with earlier assessed Belgian food intake calculations for both ages, food in general was estimated to be the major intake source for di-ethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP), with diminishing importance for BBzP, DiBP and DnBP. Conclusion: Our results confirm, that children and their mothers, sharing diets and home environments, also share exposure in common consumer products related chemicals. By collecting morning urine levels on the same day, and using basic questionnaires, suspected exposure routes could be unraveled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019


  • Bisphenol A
  • Human biomonitoring
  • Mother-child exposure
  • Phthalate metabolites
  • Triclosan


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