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Monitoring population exposure to pesticides based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry measurement of their urinary metabolites in urban wastewater: A novel biomonitoring approach

Rousis, Nikolaos I., Zuccato, Ettore, Castiglioni, Sara
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.571 pp. 1349-1357
at-risk population, biomarkers, chlorpyrifos, chlorpyrifos-methyl, cities, humans, liquid chromatography, metabolites, monitoring, phosphates, plant protection, pyrethrins, solid phase extraction, tandem mass spectrometry, urine, wastewater
Biomonitoring studies have documented the high exposure of the population to pesticides which are widely used for crop protection, industrial and household purposes. This is the first study which has measured human urinary metabolites of pesticides in urban wastewater as biomarkers of population exposure. A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method was developed to measure fifteen urinary metabolites selected from the major classes of pesticides. Raw wastewater samples were processed by solid phase extraction (SPE) or direct injection into the LC-MS/MS system. Recoveries ranged from 75 to 115% and the limits of quantification were 1–15ng/L for the SPE method and 40–800ng/L for direct injection. The method was employed for the analysis of 44 composite 24-h wastewater samples collected in seven Italian cities. Most of the target substances were detected at concentrations ranging from 1.1ng/L to 1.6μg/L. The highest concentrations were for some common metabolites of alkyl phosphates and pyrethroids and the specific metabolite of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol). The frequency of detection and abundance of most of the measured metabolites were in line with the profiles reported in urine biomonitoring studies. This method is therefore proposed as a novel “biomonitoring approach” for obtaining objective, direct information on the levels of exposure of a specific population to pesticides, and current research is addressed to validate the method identifying the most reliable biomarkers.