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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Socio-demographic inequalities influence differences in the chemical exposome among Swedish adolescents

Pineda, Sebastian; Lignell, Sanna; Gyllenhammar, Irina; Lampa, Erik; Benskin, Jonathan P.; Lundh, Thomas; Lindh, Christian; Kiviranta, Hannu; Glynn, Anders


Relatively little is known about the relationship between socio-demographic factors and the chemical exposome in adolescent populations. This knowledge gap hampers global efforts to meet certain UN sustainability goals. The present work addresses this problem in Swedish adolescents by discerning patterns within the chemical exposome and identify demographic groups susceptible to heightened exposures. Enlisting the Riksmaten Adolescents 2016 -17 (RMA) study population (N = 1082) in human-biomonitoring, and using proportional odds ordinal logistic regression models, we examined the associations between concentrations of a diverse array of substances (N = 63) with the determinants: gender, age, participant/maternal birth country income per capita level, parental education levels, and geographic place of living (longitude/ latitude). Participant/maternal birth country exhibited a significant association with the concentrations of 46 substances, followed by gender (N = 41), and longitude (N = 37). Notably, individuals born in high -income countries by high -income country mothers demonstrated substantially higher estimated adjusted means (EAM) concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) compared to those born in low-income countries by low-income country mothers. A reverse trend was observed for cobalt (Co), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), aluminium (Al), chlorinated pesticides, and phthalate metabolites. Males exhibited higher EAM concentrations of chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), Pb, PCBs, chlorinated pesticides, BFRs and PFASs than females. In contrast, females displayed higher EAM concentrations of Mn, Co, Cd and metabolites of phthalates and phosphorous flame retardants, and phenolic substances. Geographical disparities, indicative of north -to -south or west -to -east substance concentrations gradients, were identified in Sweden. Only a limited number of lifestyle, physiological and dietary factors were identified as possible drivers of demographic inequalities for specific substances. This research underscores birth country, gender, and geographical disparities as contributors to exposure differences among Swedish adolescents. Identifying underlying drivers is crucial to addressing societal inequalities associated with chemical exposure and aligning with UN sustainability goals.


Riksmaten; Ordinal regression; Exposome; UN sustainability goals; Socio-demographics; Birth country

Published in

Environment International
2024, Volume: 186, article number: 108618