Australian maternal exposure to toxic substances (AMETS) dataset

Document Type



Edith Cowan University Research Online


Faculty of Computing Health and Science

School or Research Centre

Centre for Ecosystem Management / School of Natural Sciences


Australian Research Council

Grant Number

ARC: LP0883936


The dataset contains a range of data gathered from 173 participants from across Western Australia, in particular the South West, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton and the Perth metropolitan region. The aim of the study was to investigate the concentrations of persistent toxic substances (PTS) in non occupationally exposed pregnant women and to assess the risk of adverse birth outcomes. Participants in the study completed self-administered questionnaires about lifestyle and diet and maintained diet diaries. They also provided blood, urine, drinking water, soil and dust samples which were analysed for metals and other environmental pollutants. The broad groups of chemicals measured were: polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), the DDT-group; the HCH-group; HCB and dioxin-like PCBs. New contaminants being tested for were brominated flame retardants (BFR) (PBDEs), and metals. This dataset consists of MS Access database records, chemical data kept in SPSS files, dietary diary data in Foodworks.

Additional Information

Funding for the research was provided by an ARC Linkage grant.

Partners in the research are: Professor Jon Odland, University Tromso, Norway, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme; Associate Professor Jane Heyworth of the University of Western Australia, Gavin Stevenson of the National Measurement Institute (NMI) New South Wales.

Research Activity Title

Assessing maternal exposure to persistent toxic substances and risk of adverse birth outcomes

Research Activity Description

The research aims to assess the extent to which pregnant women in Australia are exposed to a range of persistent toxic substances (PTS) and to determine the risk of adverse health outcomes in their offspring. The PTS include pesticides, herbicides, organic persistent compounds and transitional and heavy metals that remain and accumulate in the environment over long periods of time. It is now recognised that PTS, if present at sufficiently high levels, have the potential to affect a child's health, with developing foetuses considered most vulnerable. The levels of toxic substances in maternal blood and urine samples will provide an indication of the level to which foetuses and newborn infants are exposed. Participants completed a questionnaire and diet diary and provided samples of their blood, urine, drinking water, soil and dust in the last weeks of their pregnancy. Following the birth of their child, participants are asked to provide details on the birth outcomes of the infant including their gestational age, sex, birth weight and length. This provides information as to whether the toxic substances under investigation are currently present in the Australian environment at high enough levels to influence birth outcomes. The three year study is a collaboration between Edith Cowan University, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Institute of Child Health Research, National Measurement Institute and the University of Western Australia.

Start of data collection time period


End of data collection time period




Access Rights

metadata only record


Edith Cowan University owns the rights to this collection.

Only the summary data can be provided. Contact Andrea Hinwood to determine access conditions to the summary data.

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