A Comparative Multi-System Approach to Characterizing Bioactivity of Commonly Occurring Chemicals

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Mar 23;19(7):3829. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19073829.


A 2019 retrospective study analyzed wristband personal samplers from fourteen different communities across three different continents for over 1530 organic chemicals. Investigators identified fourteen chemicals (G14) detected in over 50% of personal samplers. The G14 represent a group of chemicals that individuals are commonly exposed to, and are mainly associated with consumer products including plasticizers, fragrances, flame retardants, and pesticides. The high frequency of exposure to these chemicals raises questions of their potential adverse human health effects. Additionally, the possibility of exposure to mixtures of these chemicals is likely due to their co-occurrence; thus, the potential for mixtures to induce differential bioactivity warrants further investigation. This study describes a novel approach to broadly evaluate the hazards of personal chemical exposures by coupling data from personal sampling devices with high-throughput bioactivity screenings using in vitro and non-mammalian in vivo models. To account for species and sensitivity differences, screening was conducted using primary normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells and early life-stage zebrafish. Mixtures of the G14 and most potent G14 chemicals were created to assess potential mixture effects. Chemical bioactivity was dependent on the model system, with five and eleven chemicals deemed bioactive in NHBE and zebrafish, respectively, supporting the use of a multi-system approach for bioactivity testing and highlighting sensitivity differences between the models. In both NHBE and zebrafish, mixture effects were observed when screening mixtures of the most potent chemicals. Observations of BMC-based mixtures in NHBE (NHBE BMC Mix) and zebrafish (ZF BMC Mix) suggested antagonistic effects. In this study, consumer product-related chemicals were prioritized for bioactivity screening using personal exposure data. High-throughput high-content screening was utilized to assess the chemical bioactivity and mixture effects of the most potent chemicals.

Keywords: alternative toxicological models; high-throughput screening; normal human bronchial epithelial cells; passive sampling; zebrafish.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Flame Retardants* / toxicity
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Pesticides*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Zebrafish


  • Flame Retardants
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Pesticides