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Original article
Job-exposure matrix for the assessment of alkylphenolic compounds
  1. Mayte Martín-Bustamante1,
  2. Anna Oliete-Canela1,
  3. Marta Diéguez-Rodríguez1,
  4. Yolanda Benavente2,3,
  5. Delphine Casabonne2,3,
  6. Juan Alguacil4,
  7. Manolis Kogevinas3,5,6,7,
  8. Silvia de Sanjosé2,3,8,
  9. Laura Costas2,3,8
  1. 1Institut de Seguretat i Salut Laboral, Departament de Treball, Afers Socials i Famílies, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Unit of Infections and Cancer, Cancer Epidemiology Research Programme, IDIBELL, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3CIBER Epidemiologia y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain
  4. 4Department of Environmental Biology and Public Health, Huelva University, Huelva, Spain
  5. 5Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona, Spain
  6. 6Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona, Spain
  7. 7National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece
  8. 8Department of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laura Costas, Unit of Infections and Cancer, Cancer Epidemiology Research Programme, Institut Català d'Oncologia, Av. Gran Via de l'Hospitalet 199-203, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona 08908, Spain; lcostas{at}


Objectives Our aim was to develop a job-exposure matrix (JEM) to assess occupational exposure to alkylphenolic compounds in epidemiological research, considering changes in their use over time, and including exposure probabilities in the assessments.

Methods We consulted multiple sources of information, and performed interviews with 9 key people from industry and academia. 3 hygienists coded frequency (minority or majority of workers involved) and intensity of exposure (including dispersive processes, with shaking, or aerosol generation, or otherwise) to alkylphenolic compounds for all the 390 International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO)-88 job titles by period of time. Intensity and frequency of exposure were combined in a single score as follows: unlikely=0, occasionally+low intensity=1, occasionally+high intensity=2, frequent+low intensity=2, and frequent+high intensity=3.

Results We identified 54 (13.8%) of the 390 ISCO-88 job titles with potential exposure to alkylphenolic compounds. In 6 of jobs deemed as exposed, exposure depended on the economic sector of the occupation. Nonylphenol ethoxylates were the compounds most commonly involved (30 job titles, 55.6% of the exposed). Variations in alkylphenolic compounds use varied greatly over time; while they are still used in the plastic and rubber industry, in domestic cleaning agents their use began to decline before 1995.

Conclusions We built a JEM to assess exposure to alkylphenolic compounds, taking into account changes in use over time, different types of alkylphenolic compounds and different scenarios of exposure, which can be a valuable tool for exposure assessment in epidemiological research on the health effects of these chemicals.

  • alkylphenols
  • nonylphenol
  • octylphenol
  • ethoxylates
  • job-exposure matrix

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  • Twitter Follow Anna Oliete-Canela at @anaolietecanela, Marta Diéguez-Rodríguez at @marta_dieguez, Manolis Kogevinas at @kogevinasm, Sílvia de Sanjosé at @silviadesanjose and Laura Costas at @laurix_c

  • Contributors MM-B, AO-C and MD-R performed the interviews with the key people, and assigned the exposure scores. All the coauthors contributed to the planning of the study. MM-B and LC drafted the article and are the guarantors.

  • Funding The work conducted by LC was supported by grants from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness—Carlos III Institute of Health (Río Hortega CM13/00232 and M-AES MV15/00025). This work was partially supported by public grants from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness—Carlos III Institute of Health (PI11/01810, PI14/01219), the Catalan Government (2014SGR756) and the European Regional Development Fund-ERDF.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Data sharing statement Copies of the JEM are available as a Stata database and Excel spreadsheet from the corresponding author at