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Occupational differences in personal care product use and urinary concentration of endocrine disrupting chemicals by gender

Abstract

Background

In most societies, women and men systematically differ in consumption of cosmetics and household products, which are interlinked with gendered norms and occupational segregation. We investigated the differences in personal care product (PCP) use and exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) based on occupation and gender.

Methods

We utilized data from the first to third Korean National Environmental Health Survey analyzing 9218 participants aged 20–59 years engaged in their current occupation for ≥3 months. Frequent PCP use (≥once/week) and exposure to EDCs were analyzed by gender and occupation. We used least-square geometric means (LSGMs) of urinary concentrations of the five EDCs adjusted for covariates.

Results

Manual occupation was most common in men and no paid occupation was most frequent in women. In general, clerical, service, and sales workers showed the highest prevalence of frequent use of hair and body products. Women used body and makeup products more frequently than men. For all five EDCs, similarly, women showed higher urinary levels in all occupation groups. When stratified by gender, the differences in urinary concentration of EDCs across occupation groups were not observed in men. Among women, clerical, service, and sales workers showed higher bisphenol A (BPA) and mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP) levels than manual workers.

Conclusions

Differentials in exposure to EDCs by occupation groups were not evident for men. Given the higher urinary concentration of EDCs in women compared to men, interventions to reduce the exposure to EDCs would need to focus on women, especially in clerical, service, and sales occupations.

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Fig. 1: Personal care product (PCP) use ≥once/week by occupation and gender, the Korean National Environmental Health Survey (N = 9218).
Fig. 2: Least-square geometric means (LSGMs) of creatinine-corrected environmental chemicals in urine (μg/g creatinine), stratified by gender and occupation, the Korean National Environmental Health Survey (N = 9218).

Data availability

The data analyzed in this study are from Korean National Environmental Health Survey, which is open for any researchers upon request at National Institute of Environmental Research of Korea (https://www.nier.go.kr/NIER/kor/index.do).

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Acknowledgements

We appreciate the National Institute of Environmental Research of Korea for providing the dataset.

Funding

This study is funded by the Public Healthcare Research program by the National Medical Center of South Korea (NMC2020-PR-00) and the National Research Foundation (NRF-2018R1D1A1B07048821 and BK21 Center for Integrative Response to Health Disasters, Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul National University (NO.4199990514025)).

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Contributions

SAC designed this study and conducted primary analysis. SK made a draft of this manuscript. WJL and HSM reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Seung-Ah Choe.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Three waves of the Korean National Environmental Health Survey were approved by the Institutional Review Board of the National Institute of Environmental Research (1st wave, Department of Environmental Epidemiology-354; 2nd wave, Department of Environmental Health Research-1805; 3rd wave, NIER-2016-BR-003-01 and NIER-2016-BR-003-03). All study participants agreed to participate the survey and signed an informed consent.

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Kim, S., Min, H.S., Lee, W.J. et al. Occupational differences in personal care product use and urinary concentration of endocrine disrupting chemicals by gender. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-022-00436-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-022-00436-7

Keywords

  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Vulnerable occupations
  • Chemicals in products

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