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Occupational exposure to potential endocrine disruptors: further development of a job exposure matrix
  1. M M Brouwers1,
  2. M van Tongeren2,
  3. A A Hirst3,
  4. R W Bretveld1,
  5. N Roeleveld1
  1. 1
    Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Health Technology Assessment, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  2. 2
    Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3
    Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Nel Roeleveld, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Health Technology Assessment (133), Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands; n.roeleveld{at}


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 epidemiological 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 as “unlikely” (0), “possible” (1) or “probable” (2). Job titles with positive exposure probability scores were provided with exposure scenarios that described the reasoning behind the scores.

Results: Exposure to any chemical group was unlikely for 238 job titles (67%), 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 could be a valuable tool for exposure assessment in studies on the 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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  • Funding This study was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. Additional financial support was received from the Van Walree Fund of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Copies of the JEM and accompanying background information are available as an SPSS database and Excel spreadsheet from the corresponding author.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.