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A Pilot Biomonitoring Study of Cumulative Phthalates Exposure among Vietnamese American Nail Salon Workers


Many California nail salon workers are low-income Vietnamese women of reproductive age who use nail products daily that contain androgen-disrupting phthalates, which may increase risk of male reproductive tract abnormalities during pregnancy. Yet, few studies have characterized phthalate exposures among this workforce. To characterize individual metabolites and cumulative phthalates exposure among a potentially vulnerable occupational group of nail salon workers, we collected 17 post-shift urine samples from Vietnamese workers at six San Francisco Bay Area nail salons in 2011, which were analyzed for four primary phthalate metabolites: mono-n-butyl-, mono-isobutyl-, mono(2-Ethylhexyl)-, and monoethyl phthalates (MnBP, MiBP, MEHP, and MEP, respectively; μg/L). Phthalate metabolite concentrations and a potency-weighted sum of parent compound daily intake (Σandrogen-disruptor, μg/kg/day) were compared to 203 Asian Americans from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) using Student's t-test and Wilcoxin signed rank test. Creatinine-corrected MnBP, MiBP, MEHP (μg/g), and cumulative phthalates exposure (Σandrogen-disruptor, μg/kg/day) levels were 2.9 (p < 0.0001), 1.6 (p = 0.015), 2.6 (p < 0.0001), and 2.0 (p < 0.0001) times higher, respectively, in our nail salon worker population compared to NHANES Asian Americans. Levels exceeded the NHANES 95th or 75th percentiles among some workers. This pilot study suggests that nail salon workers are disproportionately exposed to multiple phthalates, a finding that warrants further investigation to assess their potential health significance.

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