Background: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a ubiquitous, endocrine-disrupting environmental contaminant that increases risk of some adverse developmental effects. Thus, it is important to characterize BPA levels, metabolic fate and sources of exposure in pregnant women.
Methods: We used an improved liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analytic method to directly and simultaneously measure unconjugated BPA (uBPA), BPA glucuronide and BPA sulfate in the urine of a population of ethnically and racially diverse, and predominately low-income pregnant women (n = 112) in their second trimester. We also administered a questionnaire on dietary and non-dietary sources of exposure to BPA.
Results: We found universal and high exposure to uBPA and its metabolites: median concentrations were 0.25, 4.67, and 0.31 μg/g creatinine for uBPA, BPA glucuronide, and BPA sulfate, respectively. The median Total BPA (uBPA + BPA in glucuronide and sulfate forms) level was more than twice that measured in U.S. pregnant women in NHANES 2005-2006, while 30 % of the women had Total BPA levels above the 95th percentile. On average, Total BPA consisted of 71 % BPA in glucuronide form, 15 % BPA in sulfate form and 14 % uBPA, however the proportion of BPA in sulfate form increased and the proportion of uBPA decreased with Total BPA levels. Occupational and non-occupational contact with paper receipts was positively associated with BPA in conjugated (glucuronidated + sulfated) form after adjustment for demographic characteristics. Recent consumption of foods and beverages likely to be contaminated with BPA was infrequent among participants and we did not observe any positive associations with BPA analyte levels.
Conclusion: The high levels of BPA analytes found in our study population may be attributable to the low-income status of the majority of participants and/or our direct analytic method, which yields a more complete evaluation of BPA exposure. We observed near-universal exposure to BPA among pregnant women, as well as substantial variability in BPA metabolic clearance, raising additional concerns for effects on fetal development. Our results are consistent with studies showing thermal paper receipts to be an important source of exposure, point to the difficulty pregnant women have avoiding BPA exposure on an individual level, and therefore underscore the need for changes in BPA regulation and commerce.
Keywords: Bisphenol A; Children’s environmental health; Exposure sources; Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS); Pregnant women.