Toward Capturing the Exposome: Exposure Biomarker Variability and Coexposure Patterns in the Shared Environment

Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Aug 7;52(15):8801-8810. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b01467. Epub 2018 Jul 20.


Many factors affect the variation in the exposome. We examined the influence of shared household and partner's sex in relation to the variation in 128 endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) exposures among couples. In a cohort comprising of 501 couples trying for pregnancy, we measured 128 (13 chemical classes) persistent and nonpersistent EDCs and estimated 1) sex-specific differences; 2) variance explained by shared household; and 3) Spearman's rank correlation coefficients ( rs) for females, males, and couples' exposures. Sex was correlated with 8 EDCs including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) ( p < 0.05). Shared household explained 43% and 41% of the total variance for PFASs and blood metals, respectively, but less than 20% for the remaining 11 EDC classes. Coexposure patterns of the exposome were similar between females and males, with within-class rs higher for persistent than for nonpersistent chemicals. Median rss of polybrominated compounds and urine metalloids were 0.45 and 0.09, respectively, for females (0.41 and 0.08 for males; 0.21 and 0.04 for couples). Our findings suggest that individual, rather than shared environment, could be a major factor influencing the covariation of the exposome. Understanding the correlations of exposures has important analytical and sampling implications for exposomics research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy


  • Biomarkers