Urinary metabolites of organophosphate esters (OPEs) are associated with chronic kidney disease in the general US population, NHANES 2013-2014

Environ Int. 2019 Oct;131:105034. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.105034. Epub 2019 Jul 30.


Organophosphate esters (OPEs) have been widely used in building materials and consumer products as flame retardants and plasticizers. In vitro studies have suggested adverse effects of OPEs on the kidney. Despite accumulating evidence indicating widespread exposure to OPEs, their association with renal function in humans has not been evaluated. This study aims to investigate the association between OPEs exposure and chronic kidney disease (CKD) among the general US adult population by employing data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2013-2014. Among 1578 adults who were not currently pregnant, the associations of the urinary OPE metabolites with two CKD-related parameters, i.e., estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR), and CKD were assessed. To account for urine dilution, in addition to conventional creatinine-adjustment, covariate-adjusted creatinine standardization, which controls for potential confounding by kidney function, was employed. Multi-pollutant models were also constructed to verify the associations observed in the models on individual OPE metabolites. The urinary bis(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (BCEP) level was negatively associated with eGFR only with the covariate-adjusted standardization method, but not with the conventional creatinine adjustment. In addition, both bis(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (BDCIPP) and di-n-butyl phosphate (DNBP) were positively associated with the ACR, regardless of methods of urine dilution adjustment. These three compounds were also associated with CKD. Following adjusting urine dilution with the covariate-adjusted standardization method, the association became more evident. Moreover, similar results were observed in the secondary analysis with the multi-pollutant models. Among the US general population, several OPEs were identified as potential chemical determinants of CKD. Experimental studies are warranted to understand the potential mechanisms underlying this observation.

Keywords: Albuminuria; Creatinine; Glomerular filtration rate (GFR); Phosphorus flame retardants; Renal function; Urine hydration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / urine
  • Esters / urine
  • Female
  • Flame Retardants / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Organophosphates / adverse effects*
  • Organophosphates / urine
  • Plasticizers / metabolism
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / chemically induced*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / urine
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Esters
  • Flame Retardants
  • Organophosphates
  • Plasticizers