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2.  Trends in the Leading Causes of Death in Korea, 1983-2012 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2014;29(12):1597-1603.
This study aimed to analyze trends in the 10 leading causes of death in Korea from 1983 to 2012. Death rates were derived from the Korean Statistics Information Service database and age-adjusted to the 2010 population. Joinpoint regression analysis was used to identify the points when statistically significant changes occurred in the trends. Between 1983 and 2012, the age-standardized death rate (ASR) from all causes decreased by 61.6% for men and 51.2% for women. ASRs from malignant neoplasms, diabetes mellitus, and transport accidents increased initially before decreasing. ASRs from hypertensive diseases, heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases and diseases of the liver showed favorable trends (ASR % change: -94.4%, -53.8%, -76.0%, and -78.9% for men, and -77.1%, -36.5%, -67.8%, and -79.9% for women, respectively). ASRs from pneumonia decreased until the mid-1990s and thereafter increased. ASRs from intentional self-harm increased persistently since around 1990 (ASR % change: 122.0% for men and 217.4% for women). In conclusion, death rates from all causes in Korea decreased significantly in the last three decades except in the late 1990s. Despite the great strides made in the overall mortality, temporal trends varied widely by cause. Mortality trends for malignant neoplasms, diabetes mellitus, pneumonia and intentional self-harm were unfavorable.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC4248578  PMID: 25469057
Mortality; Cause of Death; Trend; Joinpoint; Korea
4.  The MOBI-Kids Study Protocol: Challenges in Assessing Childhood and Adolescent Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields from Wireless Telecommunication Technologies and Possible Association with Brain Tumor Risk 
The rapid increase in mobile phone use in young people has generated concern about possible health effects of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) and extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields (EMF). MOBI-Kids, a multinational case–control study, investigates the potential effects of childhood and adolescent exposure to EMF from mobile communications technologies on brain tumor risk in 14 countries. The study, which aims to include approximately 1,000 brain tumor cases aged 10–24 years and two individually matched controls for each case, follows a common protocol and builds upon the methodological experience of the INTERPHONE study. The design and conduct of a study on EMF exposure and brain tumor risk in young people in a large number of countries is complex and poses methodological challenges. This manuscript discusses the design of MOBI-Kids and describes the challenges and approaches chosen to address them, including: (1) the choice of controls operated for suspected appendicitis, to reduce potential selection bias related to low response rates among population controls; (2) investigating a young study population spanning a relatively wide age range; (3) conducting a large, multinational epidemiological study, while adhering to increasingly stricter ethics requirements; (4) investigating a rare and potentially fatal disease; and (5) assessing exposure to EMF from communication technologies. Our experience in thus far developing and implementing the study protocol indicates that MOBI-Kids is feasible and will generate results that will contribute to the understanding of potential brain tumor risks associated with use of mobile phones and other wireless communications technologies among young people.
PMCID: PMC4172002  PMID: 25295243
children; adolescents; brain tumors; ELF–EMF; mobile phones; RF-EMF
5.  Noise in hospital rooms and sleep disturbance in hospitalized medical patients 
Hospitalized patients are vulnerable to sleep disturbances because of environmental stresses including noise. While most previous studies on hospital noise and sleep have been performed for medical machines in intensive care units, there is a limited data for patients hospitalized in medical wardrooms. The purpose of present study was to measure noise level of medical wardrooms, identify patient-perceived sources of noise, and to examine the association between noise levels and sleep disturbances in hospitalized patients.
Noise dosimeters were used to measure noise level in 29 inpatient wardrooms at a university hospital. Sleep pattern and disturbance were assessed in 103 hospitalized patients, using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire.
The mean equivalent continuous noise level for 24 hours was 63.5 decibel A (dBA), which was far higher than 30 dBA recommended by the World Health Organization for hospital wardrooms. Other patients sharing a room were perceived as the most common source of noise by the patients, which was usually preventable. Of the patients in the study, 86% had bad sleep as assessed by the PSQI. The sleep disturbance was significantly correlated with increasing noise levels in a dose response manner.
Systemic organizational interventions are needed to keep wardrooms private and quiet to reduce sleep disturbance.
PMCID: PMC4152942  PMID: 25163680
Hospital noise; Medical wardrooms; Perceived noise; Quality assurance; Sleep disturbance
6.  Maternal blood manganese level and birth weight: a MOCEH birth cohort study 
Environmental Health  2014;13:31.
Manganese (Mn) is an essential trace element for humans and animals, but excess intake of Mn can lead to adverse developmental outcome. Few studies have investigated the effects of deficiency or excess of Mn on the human foetus. In this study, we assessed the quantitative relationship between maternal blood Mn and birth weight of a newborn.
We performed analysis on 331 full-term, live birth singleton mother-infant pairs enrolled from July 2007 to December 2009 in the Mother and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) study in Korea. A questionnaire on general characteristics, a review of medical records, and maternal whole blood Mn analysis were performed at full-term pregnancy. We evaluated the relationship between maternal blood level of Mn and the birth outcome using logistic regression and generalised additive model.
The mean Mn concentration in whole maternal blood was 22.5 μg/L. We found a curvilinear relationship between maternal blood Mn and birth weight after adjusting for potential confounders. Birth weight peaked at the maternal blood Mn level of 30 and 35 μg/L. An increased probability of birth weight below 3000 g was observed at both below 16.9 μg/L (odds ratio = 2.77, 95% CI: 0.89–8.65) and above 26.9 μg/L of maternal blood Mn level (odds ratio = 2.66, 95% CI: 0.84–8.08).
Our study found that both extreme level of maternal Mn level was associated with lower birth weight outcome in a nonlinear fashion.
PMCID: PMC4012711  PMID: 24775401
In utero environment; Birth outcome; Birth cohort; Foetal development; Dose–response relationship; Manganese
7.  The associations between ADHD and asthma in Korean children 
BMC Psychiatry  2014;14:70.
The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the most common neuropsychiatric disorder in school children, and childhood allergic disease by evaluating their respective prevalence.
Subjects were comprised of first and second grade students in twenty two elementary schools in a city in the Republic of Korea. The mode of measurement for ADHD was based on DSM-IV from clinical interviews conducted by child psychiatrists. Along with the diagnostic interviews, we also used the epidemiological questionnaires, Computerized Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Diagnostic System, the abbreviated Conner’s Parent Rating Scale (CPRS), and DuPaul’s ADHD Rating Scales. Allergic conditions, such as asthma, have been separately evaluated based on the questionnaire items whose validity and reliability were proved by the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children (ISAAC). All questionnaires were completed by the subjects’ parents.
The lifetime prevalence rate of asthma in ADHD patients was 36.6%, compared to a prevalence of 24.3% in control subjects. The lifetime prevalence rate of allergic rhinitis in ADHD patients was 59.0%, compared to a prevalence of 47.0% in control subjects. Statistically significant difference has been found between the two groups. In the logistic regression model of the ADHD and the control group, the relative risk of asthma was 1.60 times higher (confidence interval 1.301-1.964), the relative risk of allergic rhinitis was 1.38 times higher (confidence interval 1.124-1.681), which showed statistical significance.
The findings of this study suggest significant association between ADHD and childhood asthma and allergic rhinitis. Therefore, appropriate evaluation and treatment are needed for asthmatic children with attention-deficit symptoms, or allergic rhinitis with ADHD. Besides, further research is needed to determine the etiological approach towards ADHD, asthma, and allergic rhinitis.
PMCID: PMC3975298  PMID: 24606878
ADHD; Asthma; Allergic rhinitis; Children
8.  Epidemiological Characteristics of Mobile Phone Ownership and Use in Korean Children and Adolescents 
As public concern on possible harmful effects of mobile phone in children has been raised, information of epidemiological characteristics of mobile phone use in children and adolescents will be essential for public health policy.
Using three databases (n=21,693) collected from 2008 to 2011, we examined characteristics of mobile phone ownership and use, and socioeconomic positions (SEP) in Korean children and adolescents.
The ownership rate and the amount of mobile phone use were higher in females than males, in higher school grades than lower grades, and at 2011 than 2008. The average age of first mobile phone ownership was shown to decrease from 12.5 years in currently high school students to 8.4 years in currently elementary school students at 2011. More than 90% of children in the 5th grade owned a mobile phone. More children owned a mobile phone in lower SEP communities than in higher SEP. Children with parents educated less than those with parents educated more were more likely to own and use mobile phone.
Considering the epidemiological characteristics of mobile phone use, precautionary measures to prevent unnecessary exposure to mobile phones are needed in children and adolescents.
PMCID: PMC3909745  PMID: 24498595
Adolescents; Children; Mobile phone use; Socioeconomic position
9.  Children's Mental Health in the Area Affected by the Hebei Spirit Oil Spill Accident 
Children are one of the most vulnerable populations to the impact of disasters. We aimed to examine children's mental health in the area affected by the Hebei Spirit oil spill accident on December 7, 2007.
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted using the Korean versions of the Children's Depression Inventory and State Anxiety Inventory for Children on 1,362 children attending elementary schools in the affected area. The information on distances between the nearest contaminated coastline to the child's residential house or attending school were obtained using a web-based map by inputting two address points. The symptom risks of depression and state anxiety were estimated by multiple logistic regression analyses adjusted for age, gender, and other covariates.
Children with the closest distance (in the fourth quartile) to the school from the contaminated coastline showed a significantly higher symptom risk of depression compared to those with the farthest distance (first quartile)(odds ratio, 2.73; 95% confidence interval, 1.40-5.33), while there was no significant association between anxiety symptoms and distance.
Children, a vulnerable population for mental health impact by the oil spill accident, should be included in mental health programs in the community along with their family as victims of the disaster.
PMCID: PMC3761073  PMID: 24010065
Anxiety; Children; Depression; Oil spill accident
11.  Necessity for a National Carcinogen List in Korea, Based on International Harmonization 
Cancer has been the leading cause of death in Korea for the last 30 years. Cancer patients' 5-year survival rate between 2005 and 2009 was 62.0%, representing a highly advanced standard of care, as much as developed countries in the EU and the US. The Korean government formulated its first 10-year plan for cancer control in 1996 and has been carrying out a second 10-year plan for cancer control since 2006. But despite the Korean government's efforts, the cancer burden in Korea continues to increase. Many separate laws have gone into effect concerning the management of carcinogen exposure. However, there are no integrated regulatory laws or management systems against carcinogen exposure in Korea. Dead zones remain where carcinogen exposure cannot be controlled properly in Korea. In this paper, we suggest the need to establish a national carcinogen list based on international harmonization as a prerequisite for a paradigm shift in cancer control policy from treatment to primary prevention.
PMCID: PMC3717415  PMID: 23882448
Cancer control; Collaborative risk management; National carcinogen list; Primary prevention
12.  Maternal iron intake at mid-pregnancy is associated with reduced fetal growth: results from Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) study 
Nutrition Journal  2013;12:38.
Iron supplementation is a common recommendation for pregnant women to prevent iron deficiency during pregnancy. There is an increasing concern about excessive iron consumption as a general iron prophylaxis by pregnant women without any due consideration about their dietary iron intake or iron status. Our present study investigated the association between total iron intake from diet and supplements and fetal growth in 337 pregnant women at mid-pregnancy in South Korea.
Iron intake from diet and supplements was examined by a 24-hour recall method. Subjects were divided into three groups based on tertiles of total iron intake levels. Fetal biometry was assessed by ultrasonography at mid-pregnancy.
About 99% of the non-supplement users had iron intake below the recommended nutrient intake (RNI) for pregnant women (24 mg), whereas 64.9% of supplement users had iron intake above the upper level (UL) (45 mg). In the babies of mothers in the third tertile of iron intake (>17.04 mg), biparietal diameter, abdominal circumference, and femur length were lower by 0.41 cm (P =0.019), 0.41 cm (P = 0.027), and 0.07 cm (P = 0.051), respectively, than the babies of mothers in the second tertile of iron intake (11.49 ~ 17.04 mg).
These results suggest that excessive maternal iron intake at mid-pregnancy is associated with reduced fetal growth. Iron supplementation for pregnant women should be individualized according to their iron status. Appropriate diet education is needed for pregnant women so that they can consume adequate amounts of iron from food and supplements.
PMCID: PMC3653712  PMID: 23547877
Iron; Pregnancy; Growth; Diet; MOCHE study
13.  Association between Prenatal Exposure to Cadmium and Atopic Dermatitis in Infancy 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2013;28(4):516-521.
Our objective was to evaluate the relationship between intrauterine exposure to cadmium and the presence of atopic dermatitis in infants 6 months of age, adjusted for covariates including exposure to other heavy metals. The present research is a component of the Mothers' and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) study, a multi-center birth cohort project conducted in Korea. Study subjects were restricted to pregnant women in whom cadmium and lead levels were measured at delivery and whose infants were assessed for the presence of atopic disease at 6 months of age. The odds ratio (OR) for the presence of atopic dermatitis in 6-month-old infants whose cord blood had elevated cadmium levels, after adjustment for other covariates, was 2.350 (95% CI, 1.126-4.906). The OR for the presence of atopic dermatitis in infants whose cord blood had elevated lead levels was not significant. In the present study, the cord blood cadmium level was significantly associated with the presence of atopic dermatitis in 6-month-old infants; this was not true of the cord blood lead level. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first prospective study to show a relationship between prenatal exposure to cadmium and atopic dermatitis in infancy.
PMCID: PMC3617302  PMID: 23580123
Atopy; Cadmium; Lead; Cord; Dermatitis, Atopic
14.  Mobile Phone Use, Blood Lead Levels, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Symptoms in Children: A Longitudinal Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59742.
Concerns have developed for the possible negative health effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure to children’s brains. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to investigate the association between mobile phone use and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) considering the modifying effect of lead exposure.
A total of 2,422 children at 27 elementary schools in 10 Korean cities were examined and followed up 2 years later. Parents or guardians were administered a questionnaire including the Korean version of the ADHD rating scale and questions about mobile phone use, as well as socio-demographic factors. The ADHD symptom risk for mobile phone use was estimated at two time points using logistic regression and combined over 2 years using the generalized estimating equation model with repeatedly measured variables of mobile phone use, blood lead, and ADHD symptoms, adjusted for covariates.
The ADHD symptom risk associated with mobile phone use for voice calls but the association was limited to children exposed to relatively high lead.
The results suggest that simultaneous exposure to lead and RF from mobile phone use was associated with increased ADHD symptom risk, although possible reverse causality could not be ruled out.
PMCID: PMC3605379  PMID: 23555766
15.  At a Crossroads: Jump Forward or Fall Behind 
PMCID: PMC3577114  PMID: 23441301
16.  Cancer Risk in Diagnostic Radiation Workers in Korea from 1996–2002 
This study was aimed to examine the association between the effective radiation dose of diagnostic radiation workers in Korea and their risk for cancer. A total of 36,394 diagnostic radiation workers (159,189 person-years) were included in this study; the effective dose and cancer incidence were analyzed between the period 1996 and 2002. Median (range) follow-up time was 5.5 (0.04–7) years in males and 3.75 (0.04–7) years in females. Cancer risk related to the average annual effective dose and exposure to more than 5 mSv of annual radiation dose were calculated by the Cox proportional hazard model adjusted for occupation and age at the last follow-up. The standardized incidence ratio of cancer in radiation workers showed strong healthy worker effects in both male and female workers. The relative risk of all cancers from exposure of the average annual effective dose in the highest quartile (upper 75% or more of radiation dose) was 2.14 in male workers (95% CI: 1.48–3.10, p-trend: <0.0001) and 4.43 in female workers (95% CI: 2.17–9.04, p-trend: <0.0001), compared to those in the lower three quartiles of radiation exposure dose (less than upper 75% of radiation dose). Cancer risks of the brain (HR: 17.38, 95% CI: 1.05–287.8, p-trend: 0.04) and thyroid (HR: 3.88, 95% CI: 1.09–13.75, p-trend: 0.01) in female workers were significantly higher in the highest quartile group of radiation exposure compared to those in the lower three quartiles, and the risk of colon and rectum cancers in male workers showed a significantly increasing trend according to the increase of the average annual radiation dose (HR: 2.37, 95% CI: 0.99–5.67, p-trend: 0.02). The relative risk of leukemia in male workers and that of brain cancer in female workers were significantly higher in the group of people who had been exposed to more than 5 mSv/year than those exposed to less than 5 mSv/year (HR: 11.75, 95% CI: 1.08–128.20; HR: 63.11, 95% CI: 3.70–1,075.00, respectively). Although the present study involved a relatively young population and a short follow-up time, statistically significant increased risks of some cancers in radiation workers were found, which warrants a longer follow-up study and more intensive protective measures in this population.
PMCID: PMC3564144  PMID: 23343985
cancer risk; diagnostic radiation workers; effective dose
17.  International Symposia on Integrated Exposure Assessment for Hazardous Materials 
On September 2, 2010 and November 25, 2011, the Korean Research Project on Integrated Exposure Assessment to Hazardous Materials for Food Safety (KRIEFS) organized two international symposia in Seoul, Korea. KRIEFS, established by the Korean Food and Drug Administration in March 2010, envisioned these international symposia as means to obtain advanced experiences from other countries and to reflect on and refine the KRIEFS's survey design and methods.
For the first symposium KRIEFS invited human biomonitoring (HBM) experts from Germany, the US, and Canada. The visiting HBM experts shared the details of their national studies while the KRIEFS discussed study design, as well as the methods, results and policymaking processes of the KRIEFS project. The second symposium was organized to share the survey design and results on endocrine disruptors from Taiwan.
The Speaker from Germany introduced the German Environmental Survey and shared their experiences in HBM design, such as the process of developing reference values, and discussed the new HBM plan in Germany and the European Union. The Representative from Canada shared insights from national HBM approach. In the case of the US, the speaker focused on risk communication with subjects in epidemiological studies. In the second international symposium, the speaker shared the experience of endocrine disruptors'studies from Taiwan.
KRIEFS was able to better understand previous nationwide HBM research designs, policy making process, and risk communication with research subjects.
PMCID: PMC3524453
Hazardous materials; Exposure; Assessment; Cohort studies
19.  Modeling Human Exposure Levels to Airborne Volatile Organic Compounds by the Hebei Spirit Oil Spill 
The goal was to model and quantify the atmospheric concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as the result of the Hebei Spirit oil spill, and to predict whether the exposure levels were abnormally high or not.
We developed a model for calculating the airborne concentration of VOCs that are produced in an oil spill accident. The model was applied to a practical situation, namely the Hebei Spirit oil spill. The accuracy of the model was verified by comparing the results with previous observation data. The concentrations were compared with the currently used air quality standards.
Evaporation was found to be 10- to 1,000-fold higher than the emissions produced from a surrounding industrial complex. The modeled concentrations for benzene failed to meet current labor environmental standards, and the concentration of benzene, toluene, ortho- meta- para-xylene were higher than the values specified by air quality standards and guideline values on the ocean. The concentrations of total VOCs were much higher than indoor environmental criteria for the entire Taean area for a few days.
The extent of airborne exposure was clearly not the same as that for normal conditions.
PMCID: PMC3314796  PMID: 22468262
Air dispersion; California puff; Evaporation; Simulation; Volatilization
20.  Characteristics of Humidifier Use in Korean Pregnant Women: The Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) Study 
The current use of humidifier detergent and its harmful impact on humans has arisen as a societal environmental health issue. Therefore, in this study we aimed to explore the relationship between demo-socio characteristics and humidifier use, as well as the monthly usage changes in pregnant women; thus, we report the actual status of humidifier usage of Korea's pregnant population.
From a birth cohort of a Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) study, 1,144 pregnant women who responded through questionnaires including demo-socio characteristics, obstetric status and household environment including whether they use humidifier and frequency of use were included in this study. Statistical analyses were performed to explore the relationship between maternal characteristics and the relevance of the use of humidifiers was performed using a chi-square test, a t-test and univariate logistic regression analysis. The monthly usage rate was demonstrated in the graph.
The humidifier usage rate in pregnant women was 28.2%. The average frequency of humidifier usage was 4.6 days per week, 7.3 hours per day. The usage rate was higher in the multipara group and the above the age of 34 age group than in the primipara and below the age of 34 groups. Seoul showed a higher usage rate than Cheonan and Ulsan and as the education level and income increased, the usage rate of humidifiers among pregnant women also increased. In the monthly trend of usage rate, the winter season showed the highest usage rate of over 45% and the lowest in late summer and beginning of fall with a value of 12% or less.
During pregnancy, the mother's body is especially vulnerable to hazardous environmental exposure that not only affects the pregnant woman but also the fetus. Further research is still needed to elucidate the route and effect of environmental risk factors. Therefore, based on precautionary and preventive principles, special interest and caution in harmful environments are strongly needed not only at an individual level but also at a national level.
PMCID: PMC3274746  PMID: 22347705
Cohort study; Humidifier; Pregnant woman
22.  Transferrin In Korean Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 
Psychiatry Investigation  2011;8(4):366-371.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between iron, ferritin, transferrin, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), hemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume (MCV) mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) in children with ADHD.
MethodsaaThe sample consisted of 48 ADHD children and sex and age matched control children (a couple of 28 boys, 22 girls; age 6-8 years; mean±SD, 6.98±0.39). We diagnosed ADHD according to DSM-IV. ADHD symptoms were evaluated subjectively with Conners' Parent Rating Scales, Dupaul Parent ADHD Rating Scales. Subjects with ADHD and control were evaluated the hematology test including the iron, transferrin, MCV etc. Paired t test were used to evaluate the relation of a lot of hematology findings between ADHD and control group.
The serum iron, ferritin, transferrin, TIBC, hemoglobin, MCV, MCH, and MCHC of ADHD group were respectively 80.92±33.33 ug/dL, 35.81±16.59 ng/mL, 248.42±44.15 mg/dL, 351.69±102.13 ug/dL, 12.78±0.71 g/dL, 82.94±2.58 fL, 27.18±1.12 uug, 32.79±1.12%. Otherwise the serum iron, ferritin, transferrin, TIBC, hemoglobin, MCV, MCH, and MCHC of control group were respectively 82.04±28.14 ug/dL, 37.05±18.28 ng/mL, 266.27±25.40 mg/dL, 352.77±89.54 ug/dL, 12.77±0.70 g/dL, 81.81±2.96 fL, 26.69±0.99 uug, 32.66±0.96%. A significant difference were found in the transferrin(t=2.63, p=0.011), MCV (t=2.19, p=0.034), and MCH (t=2.18, p=0.034).
These results suggested that lower transferrin levels might be related with ADHD symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3246146  PMID: 22216048
ADHD; Transferrin; Hematology; Child
23.  Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates and Infant Development at 6 Months: Prospective Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) Study 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;119(10):1495-1500.
Background: There are increasing concerns over adverse effects of prenatal phthalate exposure on the neurodevelopment of infants.
Objectives: Our goal was to explore the association between prenatal di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate and dibutyl phthalate exposure and the Mental and Psychomotor Developmental Indices (MDI and PDI, respectively) of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 6 months, as part of the Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health Study.
Methods: Between 2006 and 2009, 460 mother–infant pairs from Seoul, Cheonan, and Ulsan, Korea, participated. Prenatal mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), and mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP) were measured in one urine sample acquired from each mother during the third trimester of pregnancy. Associations with log-transformed creatinine-corrected phthalate concentrations were estimated using linear regression models adjusted for potential confounders.
Results: MDI was inversely associated with the natural log concentrations (micrograms per gram creatinine) of MEHHP [β = –0.97; confidence interval (CI), –1.85 to –0.08] and MEOHP (β = –0.95; CI, –1.87 to –0.03), and PDI was inversely associated with MEHHP (β = –1.20; CI, –2.33 to –0.08). In males, MDI was inversely associated with MEHHP (β = –1.46; CI, –2.70 to –0.22), MEOHP (β = –1.57; CI, –2.87 to –0.28), and MBP (β = –0.93; CI, –1.82 to –0.05); PDI was inversely associated with MEHHP (β = –2.36; CI, –3.94 to –0.79), MEOHP (β = –2.05; CI, –3.71 to –0.39), and MBP (β = –1.25; CI, –2.40 to –0.11). No significant linear associations were observed for females.
Conclusions: The results suggest that prenatal exposure to phthalates may be inversely associated with the MDI and PDI of infants, particularly males, at 6 months.
PMCID: PMC3230435  PMID: 21737372
development; dibutyl phthalate; di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate; infant; prenatal
24.  Hebei Spirit Oil Spill Exposure and Subjective Symptoms in Residents Participating in Clean-Up Activities 
This study was conducted to examine the relationship between crude oil exposure and physical symptoms among residents participating in clean-up work associated with the Hebei Spirit oil spill, 2007 in Korea.
A total of 288 residents responded to a questionnaire regarding subjective physical symptoms, sociodemographic characteristics and clean-up activities that occurred between two and eight weeks after the accident. Additionally, the urine of 154 of the respondents was analyzed for metabolites of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. To compare the urinary levels of exposure biomarkers, the urine of 39 inland residents who were not directly exposed to the oil spill were analyzed.
Residents exposed to oil remnants through clean-up work showed associations between physical symptoms and the exposure levels defined in various ways, including days of work, degree of skin contamination, and levels of some urinary exposure biomarkers of VOCs, metabolites and metals, although no major abnormalities in urinary exposure biomarkers were observed.
This study provides evidence of a relationship between crude oil exposure and acute human health effects and suggests the need for follow-up to evaluate the exposure status and long-term health effects of clean-up participants.
PMCID: PMC3214977  PMID: 22125768
Oil spill; Health effects; Urinary metabolites; VOCs; PAHs
25.  Interaction between GSTM1/GSTT1 Polymorphism and Blood Mercury on Birth Weight 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2009;118(3):437-443.
Mercury (Hg) is toxic to both the reproductive and nervous systems. In addition, glutathione S-transferases (GSTs), which conjugate glutathione to a variety of electrophilic compounds, are involved in the detoxification of Hg.
In this study we examined the association between prenatal exposure to Hg and birth weight as well as the influence of GST polymorphisms.
The total Hg concentration in maternal and cord blood was measured from 417 Korean women and newborns in the Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health study from 2006 to 2008. Information on birth weight was collected from the patients’ medical records. The genotyping of glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) and glutathione S-transferase T1 (GSTT1) polymorphisms was carried out using polymerase chain reaction. Regression analysis was performed to determine the association between the blood Hg concentration and birth weight in mothers with GSTM1 and GSTT1 polymorphisms.
The geometric mean levels of Hg in the maternal blood during late pregnancy and in cord blood were 3.30 μg/L and 5.53 μg/L, respectively. For mothers with the GSTT1 null genotype, elevated Hg levels in maternal blood during late pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of lower birth weight. For mothers with both GSTM1 and GSTT1 null genotype, both maternal and cord blood Hg levels were associated with lower birth weight.
This study suggests that the interactions of Hg with GSTM1 and GSTT1 polymorphisms play a role in reducing birth weight.
PMCID: PMC2854776  PMID: 20194072
birth weight; GSTM1; GSTT1; mercury; polymorphism; pregnancy

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