Relationship between urinary concentrations of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) metabolites and reproductive hormones in polyvinyl chloride production workers
Objectives We investigated the relationship between urinary metabolites of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and reproductive hormones in workers of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production plants. After exposure, most of the DEHP is rapidly metabolised to mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP) and mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), which may be associated with reproductive hormone interruption and testicular toxicity. Some studies report that urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites for plastics workers are significantly higher than for the general population. However, little is known about the disruption of reproductive hormones for DEHP exposure workers.
Methods This cross-sectional study of 82 male workers measured the biomarkers for their reproductive hormones and their exposure to DEHP. Relationships between urinary concentrations of DEHP metabolites were estimated using multivariate linear regression and quartile analysis models.
Results The geometric means of urinary creatinine-adjusted (μg/g-Cre) concentrations of MEHP, MEOHP and MEHHP during the post-shift period were 23.9, 66.9 and 84.6, respectively. In multiple regression models adjusted for potential confounders, there were significant positive associations between urinary concentrations of DEHP metabolites and estradiol (E2) (p<0.01), and in the ratio of E2 to testosterone (p<0.05). Moreover, quartile analysis showed significant positive relationships between the total urinary concentration of DEHP metabolites and E2 (ptrend=0.024), and in the ratio of E2 to testosterone (ptrend=0.031).
Conclusions Relationships between reproductive hormones and the total urinary concentration of DEHP metabolites in male PVC production workers were significantly positive. This indicated that aromatase activity had increased in male workers exposed to DEHP, which is consistent with animal studies.