The impact of bisphenol A and triclosan on immune parameters in the U.S. population, NHANES 2003-2006

Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Mar;119(3):390-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1002883. Epub 2010 Nov 29.


Background: Exposure to environmental toxicants is associated with numerous disease outcomes, many of which involve underlying immune and inflammatory dysfunction.

Objectives: To address the gap between environmental exposures and immune dysfunction, we investigated the association of two endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) with markers of immune function.

Methods: Using data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we compared urinary bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan levels with serum cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody levels and diagnosis of allergies or hay fever in U.S. adults and children ≥ 6 years of age. We used multivariate ordinary least squares linear regression models to examine the association of BPA and triclosan with CMV antibody titers, and multivariate logistic regression models to investigate the association of these chemicals with allergy or hay fever diagnosis. Statistical models were stratified by age (< 18 years and ≥ 18 years).

Results: In analyses adjusted for age, sex, race, body mass index, creatinine levels, family income, and educational attainment, in the ≥ 18-year age group, higher urinary BPA levels were associated with higher CMV antibody titers (p < 0.001). In the < 18-year age group, lower levels of BPA were associated with higher CMV antibody titers (p < 0.05). However, triclosan, but not BPA, showed a positive association with allergy or hay fever diagnosis. In the < 18-year age group, higher levels of triclosan were associated with greater odds of having been diagnosed with allergies or hay fever (p < 0.01).

Conclusions: EDCs such as BPA and triclosan may negatively affect human immune function as measured by CMV antibody levels and allergy or hay fever diagnosis, respectively, with differential consequences based on age. Additional studies should be done to investigate these findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Child
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Endocrine Disruptors / metabolism
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immune System / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • Phenols / urine
  • Triclosan / metabolism
  • Triclosan / toxicity*
  • Triclosan / urine
  • United States


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Biomarkers
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Phenols
  • Triclosan
  • bisphenol A