Variability and exposure classification of urinary phenol and paraben metabolite concentrations in reproductive-aged women

Anna Z. Pollack, Neil J. Perkins, Lindsey Sjaarda, Sunni L. Mumford, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Claire Philippat, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Enrique F. Schisterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background Human exposure to phenols and parabens is widespread. Within-person variability of urinary concentrations in healthy women is not well characterized. Objectives To characterize the variability of urinary phenol and paraben concentrations across two months and evaluate the ability of a single spot urine sample to characterize exposure. Methods 143 women provided 509 spot urine samples collected across two months of study (3–5 samples/woman). We measured urinary concentrations of 8 phenols: bisphenol A (BPA), benzophenone-3 (BP-3), benzophenone-1 (BP-1), 2,4-dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP), 2,5-dichlorophenol (2,5-DCP), 2,4,5-trichlorophenol (2,4,5-TCP), 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (2,4,6-TCP), triclosan (TCS); and 8 parabens and their metabolites (benzyl (BzP), butyl (BuP), ethyl (EtP), heptyl (HeP), methyl (MeP), propyl (PrP), 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HB), 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (3,4-DHB)). Biomarker variability was characterized using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and surrogate category analyses were conducted. Results ICCs ranged from very low for BPA (0.04) to moderate for BP-3, BP-1, TCS, BzP, and MeP (0.66, 0.58, 0.55, 0.54, and 0.62, respectively). Surrogate analyses suggested that BP-1, BP-3, TCS, 2,4-DCP, BuP, and PrP may be characterized by a single spot sample (sensitivity range 0.76–0.86) but that additional samples were necessary for BPA, HeP, 4-HB, and 3,4-DHB (sensitivity range 0.47–0.61). Conclusions Urinary phenol and paraben metabolite concentrations were variable across two months in healthy women but the degree of reliability differed by the specific biomarker. A small number of samples may sufficiently characterize typical concentrations for BP-3, BP-1, TCS, BuP, and PrP; but additional biospecimens may be necessary to characterize exposure for other compounds, including BPA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-520
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Benzophenone-3
  • Bisphenol A
  • Dichlorophenol
  • Intra-individual variability
  • Parabens
  • Reliability, Triclosan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Medicine
  • General Environmental Science


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