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Distribution and predictors of urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites in two pregnancy cohort studies.

  • Cathey, Amber1
  • Ferguson, Kelly K2
  • McElrath, Thomas F3
  • Cantonwine, David E3
  • Pace, Gerry4
  • Alshawabkeh, Akram5
  • Cordero, Jose F6
  • Meeker, John D7
  • 1 Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
  • 2 Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 111 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.
  • 3 Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 75 Francis St., Boston, MA 02115, USA.
  • 4 NSF International, 789 N Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA.
  • 5 College of Engineering, Northeastern University, 110 Forsyth St, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
  • 6 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Georgia College of Public Health, 101 Buck Rd., Athens, GA 30602, USA. , (Georgia)
  • 7 Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
Published Article
Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2018
DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.09.087
PMID: 28993025


Pregnant women and their fetuses represent susceptible populations to environmental contaminants. Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) among pregnant women may contribute to adverse birth outcomes such as preterm birth. Multiple previous studies have assessed airborne sources of PAHs among pregnant women but few have measured urinary PAH metabolites which can capture total exposure through multiple routes. The aim of this study was to bridge this knowledge gap by assessing longitudinal urinary PAH metabolite concentrations over two time points in pregnancy cohorts in Boston (N = 200) and Puerto Rico (N = 50) to better understand exposure distributions throughout pregnancy and how they relate to demographic factors. Urine samples were analyzed for 1-NAP, 2-NAP, 2-FLU, 1-PHE, 2,3-PHE, 4-PHE, 9-PHE, and 1-PYR. Concentrations of 2-NAP, 1-PYR, and 4-PHE were higher in Puerto Rico, while all other metabolites were present in higher concentrations in Boston. In Puerto Rico, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were weak to moderate, ranging from 0.06 to 0.42. PAH metabolite concentrations were significantly higher among younger, heavier (except 1-NAP and 9-PHE), and less educated individuals in Boston only. Consistent significant associations between PAH concentrations and measured covariates were not found in Puerto Rico. Our results suggest that potentially important differences in PAH exposure exist between these two populations. Additionally, our results indicate that multiple urinary measurements are required to accurately assess PAH exposure throughout pregnancy.

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