Variability of Urinary Concentrations of Phenols, Parabens, and Triclocarban during Pregnancy in First Morning Voids and Pooled Samples

Environ Sci Technol. 2021 Dec 7;55(23):16001-16010. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.1c04140. Epub 2021 Nov 24.


Urinary concentrations of phenols, parabens, and triclocarban have been extensively used as biomarkers of exposure. However, because these compounds are quickly metabolized and excreted in urine, characterizing participants' long-term average exposure from a few spot samples is challenging. To examine the variability of urinary concentrations of these compounds during pregnancy, we quantified four phenols, four parabens, and triclocarban in 357 first morning voids (FMVs) and 203 pooled samples collected during the second and third trimesters of 173 pregnancies. We computed intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) by the sample type (FMV and pool) across two trimesters and by the number of composite samples in pools, ranging from 2 to 4, within the same trimester. Among the three compounds detected in more than 50% of the samples, the ICCs across two trimesters were higher in pools (0.29-0.68) than in FMVs (0.17-0.52) and the highest ICC within the same trimester was observed when pooling either two or three composites. Methyl paraben and propyl paraben primarily exposed via cosmetic use had approximately 2-3 times higher ICCs than bisphenol A primarily exposed via diet. Our findings support that within-subject pooling of biospecimens can increase the reproducibility of pregnant women's exposure to these compounds and thus could potentially minimize exposure misclassification.

Keywords: biospecimens; exposure misclassification; pooling; reproducibility; sample type.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Carbanilides*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parabens*
  • Phenols
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Biomarkers
  • Carbanilides
  • Parabens
  • Phenols
  • triclocarban