Association between Environmental Exposure to Multiclass Organic Pollutants and Sex Steroid Hormone Levels in Women of Reproductive Age

Environ Sci Technol. 2023 Dec 5;57(48):19383-19394. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.3c06095. Epub 2023 Nov 7.


Organic pollutant exposure may alter sex steroid hormone levels in both animals and humans, but studies on mixture effects have been lacking and mainly limited to persistent organic pollutants, with few hormones being investigated. Moreover, measurements from a single blood or urine sample may not be able to reflect long-term status. Using hair analysis, here, we evaluated the relationship between multiclass organic pollutants and sex steroid hormones in 196 healthy Chinese women aged 25-45 years. Associations with nine sex steroid hormones, including progesterone, androstenedione (AD), testosterone (T), estrone (E1), and 17β-estradiol (E2), and eight related hormone ratios were explored on 54 pollutants from polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), pesticide, and bisphenol families using stability-based Lasso regression analysis. Our results showed that each hormone was associated with a mixture of at least 10 examined pollutants. In particular, hair E2 concentration was associated with 19 pollutants, including γ-hexachlorocyclohexane, propoxur, permethrin, fipronil, mecoprop, prochloraz, and carbendazim. There were also associations between pollutants and hormone ratios, with pentachlorophenol, dimethylthiophosphate, 3-phenoxybenzoic acid, and flusilazole being related to both E1/AD and E2/T ratios. Our results suggest that exposure to background levels of pesticides PCB180 and bisphenol S may affect sex steroid hormone homeostasis among women of reproductive age.

Keywords: bisphenol S; endocrine disruption; hair analysis; hormones; human biomonitoring; multiclass pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants* / analysis
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Humans
  • Pesticides* / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls* / analysis
  • Testosterone / analysis


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Testosterone
  • Pesticides