Childhood exposure to phthalates and pulmonary function

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Feb 15:615:1282-1289. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.318. Epub 2017 Oct 17.


Phthalate exposure is related to the development of allergic diseases; however, studies regarding its effect on lung function are limited. Our study aims to identify an association between phthalate exposure at different ages and lung function in children at age 9 by conducting a cohort study. The Taiwan Birth Panel Study (TBPS) was established from April 2004 to January 2005. Urine samples were collected from children in the TBPS cohort at ages 2, 5, and 9years. Urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations were measured via ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Questionnaires, lung function tests and serum IgE levels were obtained from children at the age of 9. Multiple linear regressions adjusted for confounding factors were applied to investigate the associations between phthalate exposure at different ages and lung function at age 9. Our results demonstrate that in children with allergic diseases, a per log unit increase in the urinary phthalate metabolite mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP) concentration at age 9 was associated with a decreasing forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1) (β=-25.22; 95% CI: -47.53 to -2.91 per log ml/ln-μg/g cr) and forced vital capacity (FVC) (β=-32.3; 95% CI: -63.51 to -1.09 per log ml/ln-μg/g cr). For children with high serum IgE levels (>100kU/L) at age 9, the urinary MEP concentrations at the same age were negatively associated with the FEV1 (β=-30.4; 95% CI: -56.8 to -4.0 per log ml/ln-μg/g cr), FVC (β=-47.6; 95% CI: -84.2 to -11.0 per log ml/ln-μg/g cr) and peak expiratory flow (PEF) (β=-102.4; 95% CI: 180.2 to -24.7 per log ml/ln-μg/g cr). Phthalate exposure at ages 2 and 5 had little effect on lung function at age 9. Our study suggests that concurrent exposure to phthalates, such as MEP, is negatively associated with lung function in children. Further investigation is required to elaborate on this correlation.

Keywords: Children; Lung function; Phthalates.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Phthalic Acids / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Taiwan


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phthalic Acids
  • phthalic acid