Objectives: The aim was to develop a new up-to-date and comprehensive Job Exposure Matrix (JEM) for estimating exposure to potential endocrine disruptors in epidemiologic research.
Methods: Chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties were identified from the literature and classified into 10 chemical groups: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated organic compounds, pesticides, phthalates, organic solvents, bisphenol A, alkylphenolic compounds, brominated flame retardants, metals, and a miscellaneous group. Most chemical groups were divided into three to six subgroups. Focusing on the years 1996 - 2006, three experts scored the probability of exposure to each chemical group and subgroup for 353 job titles, in three levels: ‘unlikely’ (0), ‘possible’ (1), and ‘probable’ (2). Job titles with positive exposure probability scores were provided with exposure scenarios that described the reasoning behind the scores.
Results: For 238 job titles (67%), exposure to any chemical group was unlikely, whereas 102 (29%) job titles were classified as possibly (17%) or probably (12%) exposed to one or several endocrine disruptors. The remaining 13 job titles provided too little information to classify exposure. PAHs, pesticides, phthalates, organic solvents, alkylphenolic compounds, and metals were often linked to a job title in the JEM. The remaining chemical groups were found to involve very few occupations.
Conclusions: Despite some important limitations, this JEM can be a valuable tool for exposure assessment in studies on health risks of endocrine disruptors, especially when task-specific information is incorporated. The documented exposure scenarios are meant to facilitate further adjustments to the JEM to allow more widespread use.
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