Urinary phthalate metabolites over the first 15 months of life and risk assessment – CHECK cohort study

Sunmi Kim, Jangwoo Lee, Jeongim Park, Hai Joong Kim, Geum Joon Cho, Gun Ha Kim, So Hee Eun, Jeong Jae Lee, Gyuyeon Choi, Eunsook Suh, Sooran Choi, Sungjoo Kim, Sung Koo Kim, Young Don Kim, Su Young Kim, Seunghyo Kim, Soyong Eom, Hyo Bang Moon, Sungkyoon Kim, Kyungho Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Phthalates are important group of endocrine disruptors. Infants and young children are susceptible to phthalate exposure. However, information on the phthalate exposure during the early stages of life is very limited. This study was conducted to understand the temporal trend of exposure to major phthalates among infants of Korea during the first 15 months after birth, and to estimate associated risks. A total of 286 urine samples were collected from 171 children at 3, 9, 12, or 15 months of age, with 77 children sampled for two or more times. Four phthalates, i.e., di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), and diethyl phthalate (DEP) were chosen, and their major metabolites were analyzed in the urine. The DEHP metabolites were detected in 100% of the urine samples at relatively higher levels compared to those reported in other countries. The levels of mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP) were generally lower. Urinary concentrations of most phthalate metabolites, especially DEHP metabolites, increased as children grew older. Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) calculated for DEHP metabolites over time were high (0.7–0.8), suggesting persistence of consistent exposure sources during this sensitive period of life. Hazard quotient (HQ) and hazard index (HI) were calculated from daily intake estimates divided by recommended toxicity thresholds. Among the study population, 4, 16, and 26% of the children showed HI > 1 at 9, 12, and 15 months of age, respectively. DEHP exposure explained most of the risk estimates. Considering vulnerability of young children to endocrine disruption, efforts to identify sources of exposure and to develop appropriate mitigation options are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-887
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 31
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank participating mothers and their young children in Children's Health and Environmental Chemicals in Korea (CHECK) cohort. This study was funded by the Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) in “Environmental Health Action Program (1485014467)”. This study employed the samples collected by support from Ministry of the Food and Drug Safety (12162MFDS731).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Infant
  • Phthalates
  • Repeated measurement
  • Trend
  • Urine
  • Within-subject variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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