Phthalate exposure among pregnant women in Jerusalem, Israel: Results of a pilot study

Tamar Berman, Drorit Hochner-Celnikier, Antonia M. Calafat, Larry L. Needham, Yona Amitai, Uri Wormser, Elihu Richter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Background: Phthalates can disrupt endocrine function and induce reproductive and developmental toxicity in laboratory animals. Few studies have evaluated exposure to phthalates in pregnant women, despite the potential sensitivity of the developing fetus to adverse effects of phthalates. Methods: We measured urinary concentrations of 11 phthalate metabolites in 19 pregnant women, recruited in Jerusalem, Israel in 2006, and collected questionnaire data on demographic factors and consumer habits from these women. We compared geometric mean concentrations in subgroups and used the Mann-Whitney U-test for independent samples to determine significant differences between groups. Results: Nine metabolites were detected in at least 95% of the samples: mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate, mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate, mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate, mono(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate, mono(n-butyl) phthalate, monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP), mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate and monoisobutyl phthalate. Phthalate metabolite concentrations in these pregnant women were remarkably similar to those in the general United States female population. MBzP geometric mean concentrations were higher in women living in buildings existing 40 years or more (P = 0.04). In women who used four or more personal care products (perfume, deodorant, lipstick, nail polish, or hand/face cream) in the 48 h prior to providing the urine sample, geometric mean MEP concentrations were more than 4 times higher than concentrations in women using only two or three of the aforementioned products (P = 0.07). Conclusions: Pregnant women in Jerusalem are exposed to a wide range of phthalates. Building materials used in old constructions may be a source of exposure to benzylbutyl phthalate, the parent compound of MBzP. Personal care products may be sources of exposure to diethyl phthalate, the parent compound of MEP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-357
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironment international
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomonitoring
  • Exposure
  • Phthalates
  • Pregnancy
  • Urinary metabolites


Dive into the research topics of 'Phthalate exposure among pregnant women in Jerusalem, Israel: Results of a pilot study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this