Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 6381–6386 | Cite as

Arsenic, heavy metals, phthalates, pesticides, hydrocarbons and polyfluorinated compounds but not parabens or phenols are associated with adult remembering condition: US NHANES, 2011–2012

  • Ivy ShiueEmail author
Short Research and Discussion Article


Links between environmental chemicals and human health have emerged, but the effects on cognition were less studied. Therefore, it was aimed to study the relationships of different sets of environmental chemicals and the remembering condition in a national and population-based study in recent years. Data was retrieved from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 2011–2012, including demographics, blood pressure readings, serum measurements, lifestyle factors, self-reported remembering condition and urinary environmental chemical concentrations. Analyses included Chi-square test, t test and survey-weighted logistic and multi-nominal regression models. Among the elderly aged 60–80 (n = 1791), 320 (17.9 %) had difficulties in thinking or remembering. People who had difficulties in thinking or remembering had higher levels of urinary heavy metals, phthalates, pesticides and hydrocarbon concentrations but lower levels of urinary arsenic and polyfluorinated compound concentrations. During the recent past week, 146 people (8.2 %) had trouble remembering for more than three times while 619 people (35.2 %) had that for one to three times. These people had higher levels of urinary heavy metals, phthalates, pesticides and hydrocarbon concentrations but lower levels of urinary polyfluorinated compound concentrations. There were no associations with urinary bisphenols, parabens, perchlorate, nitrate or thiocyanate concentrations. This is the first time observing statistically significant risk associations of urinary heavy metals, phthalates, pesticides and hydrocarbon concentrations and the remembering condition specifically in the elderly, although the causality cannot be established. Elimination of such environmental chemicals in humans might need to be considered in future health policy and intervention programs.


Chemicals Environmental health Risk factor Cognition Population attributable risk Memory 



IS is supported by the Global Platform for Research Leaders scheme.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and SocietyHeriot-Watt UniversityEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Owens Institute for Behavioral ResearchUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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