Urinary concentrations of environmental contaminants and phytoestrogens in adults in Israel Academic Article uri icon


  • The Ministry of Health Biomonitoring Study estimated exposure of individuals in the Israeli population to bisphenol A (BPA), organophosphate (OP) pesticides, phthalates, cotinine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and the phytoestrogenic compounds genistein and daidzein. In 2011, 250 individuals (ages 20-74) were recruited from five different regions in Israel. Urine samples were collected and questionnaire data were obtained, including detailed dietary data (food frequency questionnaire and 24hour recall). Urinary samples were analyzed for BPA, OP metabolites (dialkyl phosphates), phthalate metabolites, cotinine, PAH metabolites, genistein, and daidzein. BPA urinary concentrations were above the limit of quantification (LOQ) in 89% of the samples whereas urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites were above the LOQ in 92-100% of the samples. PAH metabolites were above the LOQ in 63-99% of the samples whereas OP metabolites were above the LOQ in 44-100% of the samples. All non-smoking participants had detectable levels of cotinine in their urine; 63% had levels above the LOQ, and the rate of quantification was high compared to the general non-smoking population in Canada. Median creatinine adjusted concentrations of several OP metabolites (dimethyl phosphate, dimethyl thiophosphate) were high in our study population compared to the general US and Canadian populations. Median creatinine adjusted urinary BPA concentrations in the study population were comparable to those in Belgium and Korea; higher than those reported for the general US, German, and Canadian populations; and very low compared to health-based threshold values. Phthalate concentrations were higher in our study population compared to the general US population but values were very low compared to health-based threshold values. Median creatinine adjusted PAH concentrations were generally comparable to those reported for the general US population; median creatinine adjusted daidzein concentrations were high in our population compared to the general US population whereas genistein concentrations were comparable. We interpreted observed urinary contaminant levels observed in our study by comparing values with health-based threshold values and/or values from international human biomonitoring studies. Using this data interpretation scheme, we identified two contaminants as being of potential public health concern and high priority for public health policy intervention: environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and OP pesticides. We used the data collected in this study to support public health policy interventions. We plan to conduct a follow-up biomonitoring study in 2015 to measure ETS and OP exposure in the general population in Israel, to evaluate the effectiveness of relevant policy interventions.

publication date

  • September 1, 2013