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An informatics approach to cumulativechemical exposure from consumer products: A case study for asthma-associated and endocrine disrupting chemicals

Full APA Reference

Gabb, H.A. and Blake, C. (2016). An informatics approach to cumulative
chemical exposure from consumer products: A case study for asthma-associated and endocrine disrupting chemicals.  Environmental Health Perspectives. http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510529

Publication Abstract

Background: Simultaneous or sequential exposure to multiple environmental stressors can affect chemical toxicity. Cumulative risk assessments consider multiple stressors but it is impractical to test every chemical combination to which people are exposed. New methods are needed to prioritize chemical combinations based on their prevalence and possible health impacts.

Objectives: We introduce an informatics approach that uses publicly available data to identify chemicals that co-occur in consumer products, which account for a significant proportion of overall chemical load.

Methods: Fifty-five asthma-associated and endocrine disrupting chemicals (target chemicals) were selected. A database of 38,975 distinct consumer products and 32,231 distinct ingredient names was created from online sources, and PubChem and the Unified Medical Language System were used to resolve synonymous ingredient names. Synonymous ingredient names are different names for the same chemical (e.g., Vitamin E and Tocopherol).

Results: Nearly one-third of the products (11,688 products, 30%) contained ≥1 target chemical and 5,229 products (13%) contained >1. Of the 55 target chemicals, 31 (56%) appear in ≥1 product and 19 (35%) appear under more than one name. The most frequent 3-way chemical combination (2-phenoxyethanol, methyl paraben, and ethyl paraben) appears in 1059 products. Further work is needed to assess combined chemical exposures related to the use of multiple products.

Conclusions: The informatics approach increased the number of products considered in a traditional analysis by two orders of magnitude, but missing/incomplete product labels can limit the effectiveness of this approach. Such an approach must resolve synonymy to ensure that chemicals of interest are not missed. Commonly occurring chemical combinations can be used to prioritize cumulative toxicology risk assessments.