Trends and disparities in urinary BPA concentrations among U.S. emerging adults

Irene van Woerden, Meg Bruening, Jessica Montresor-López, Devon C. Payne-Sturges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Emerging adulthood (ages 18–25 years) is a key turning point in the life course characterized by particularly poor eating behaviors (e.g., low in fruits and vegetables, and high in fast food) and weight gain. Emerging adults are also prime consumers of personal care and other consumer products that may result in differential exposures to environmental contaminants, such as Bisphenol A (BPA), compared to adults aged 26+ years. This is of concern given BPA has been associated with adverse health outcomes such as obesity, metabolic disorders, miscarriage, infertility and breast cancer. However, no research has examined exposure to BPA among emerging adults. Objective: To assess trends of exposure to urinary BPA among a representative sample of emerging adults compared to adults aged 26+ years. Secondarily, we aimed to identify differential associations between BPA concentrations and sociodemographic characteristics and BMI by age group. Methods: This study uses National Health and Examination Surveys (NHANES) over 2003–2014 to test differences in BPA concentrations comparing emerging adults to adults aged 26+ years. Generalized linear models predicting log BPA by age group and sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, and food security status, and generalized linear models predicting BMI by log BPA, both age group and age as a continuous variable, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, and food security status were conducted. Interactions with age group (i.e., age group x sex) were examined for the mutually adjusted models. All models controlled for survey year, month, and time of day, and were run with, and without, an adjustment for urinary creatinine. Results: In models adjusted, and not adjusted, for urinary creatinine, emerging adults had a higher log BPA concentration than adults aged 26+ years (β=0.153, p=0.004; β=0.544, p<0.001), and a significantly steeper decline in BPA concentration between 2003-2004 and 2013–2014 than adults aged 26+ years (ß=−0.051, p=0.002; ß=−0.071, p=0.001). Males’ log BPA concentration were lower than that for females when urinary creatinine was included in the model, and higher when urinary creatinine was excluded from the model (ß=−0.188, p<0.001; β=0.203, p<0.001). Higher income was significantly associated with lower log BPA concentration (ß=−0.220, p<0.001; ß=−0.166, p<0.001). A significant interaction between emerging adult age group and food security status was observed, which was associated with higher BPA exposures. Log BPA concentration was associated with BMI only when urinary creatinine was excluded from the models (urinary creatinine included: β=0.031, p=0.747; β=0.022, p=0.815, urinary creatinine excluded: β=0.528, p<0.001; β=0.552, p<0.001). Conclusion: Findings indicate that emerging adults had higher BPA exposures than adults aged 26+ years in 2003–2004, and that emerging adults’ exposure level has decreased faster than that of adults aged 26+ years. There were suggestions that the BPA concentration of emerging adults in 2013–2014 was lower than that for adults aged 26+ years, and that BPA exposure is associated with higher BMI. Our results highlight the need for additional research to identify the sources and routes of exposure to BPA and BPA replacements among emerging adults and to better characterize the variability in exposure. Intervention studies are needed to assist emerging adults in limiting their exposure to BPA, and potentially also the BPA alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108515
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Emerging adults
  • Trends
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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