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Passive sampling methods to determine household and personal care product use


Traditionally, use of household and personal care products has been collected through questionnaires, which is very time consuming, a burden on participants, and prone to recall bias. As part of the SUPERB Project (Study of Use of Products and Exposure-Related Behaviors), a novel platform was developed using bar codes to quickly and reliably determine what household and personal care products people have in their homes and determine the amount used over a 1-week period. We evaluated the acceptability and feasibility of our methodology in a longitudinal field study that included 47 California households, 30 with young children and 17 with an older adult. Acceptability was defined by refusal rates; feasibility was evaluated in terms of readable bar codes, useful product information in our database for all readable barcodes, and ability to find containers at both the start and end of the week. We found 63% of personal care products and 87% of the household care products had readable barcodes with 47% and 41% having sufficient data for product identification, respectively and secondly, the amount used could be determined most of the time. We present distributions for amount used by product category and compare inter- and intra-person variability. In summary, our method appears to be appropriate, acceptable, and useful for gathering information related to potential exposures stemming from the use of personal and household care products. A very low drop-out rate suggests that this methodology can be useful in longitudinal studies of exposure to household and personal care products.

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The project was supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (Grant # RD-83154001-0). We thank all of our study participants and our field staff (Jessica Riley, Valerie Moore, Laura Gonzalez, Brianna Diaz, and Karen Wagner).

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Correspondence to Deborah H Bennett.

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Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology website

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Bennett, D., Wu, X., Teague, C. et al. Passive sampling methods to determine household and personal care product use. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 22, 148–160 (2012).

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  • personal care products
  • cleaning products
  • passive sampling
  • longitudinal

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