Exposure of U.S. population to endocrine disruptive chemicals (Parabens, Benzophenone-3, Bisphenol-A and Triclosan) and their associations with female infertility

Environ Pollut. 2020 Oct;265(Pt A):114763. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114763. Epub 2020 May 8.


Ubiquitous exposure to endocrine disruptive chemicals (EDC) among women of reproductive age is alarming. Exposure to EDCs could be contributing to infertility. We determined the association between common EDCs and self-reported infertility among U.S. women, 18-45 years of age using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) for periods 2013-2014 and 2015-2016. A cross-sectional study on reproductive age women was conducted. Available important sociodemographic variables, and urinary concentrations of parabens (methyl paraben [MP], ethyl paraben [EP], propyl paraben [PP], and butyl paraben [BP]), Benzophenone-3 (BP-3), Bisphenol-A (BPA), and triclosan (TCS) were obtained from the NHANES databases. Clustering among EDCs were obtained using variable cluster analysis. Relative risk regression models were used to estimate associations of individual and combined EDCs with self-reported infertility after applying appropriate survey weights to account for the complex survey design as well as to compensate for the four-year cycle. Results were summarized using prevalence ratio (PR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Of total 789 individuals included in the study, 14% (95%CI: 11%-18%) had infertility. MP and PP were detected in 99% of urine samples, BP in 46%, EP and BP-3 in 96%, BPA in 94% and TCS in 73%. Self-reported infertility was significantly associated with combined score of BP-3, BPA and TCS (PR = 1.13, p = 0.007), and above detection level of EP (PR = 1.57, p = 0.025) even after adjusting for potential confounders. Our results suggested the EP and mixtures of benzophenones, TCS, and BPA were associated with infertility among the U.S. women. However, because of the limitations inherent to the cross-sectional study design, prospective cohort studies are warranted to confirm these findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Benzophenones
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Parabens
  • Prospective Studies
  • Triclosan*
  • Young Adult


  • Benzophenones
  • Parabens
  • Triclosan
  • oxybenzone