Characterisation and validation of sampling and analytical methods for mycotoxins in workplace air

Mycotoxins are produced by certain plant or foodstuff moulds under growing, transport or storage conditions. They are toxic for humans and animals, some are carcinogenic. In this study, methods to monitor occupational exposure to seven of the most frequently occurring airborne mycotoxins have been characterised and validated. Experimental aerosols have been generated from naturally contaminated particles for sampler evaluation. Air samples were collected on foam pads, using the CIP 10 personal aerosol sampler with its inhalable health-related aerosol fraction selector. The samples were subsequently solvent extracted from the sampling media, cleaned using immunoaffinity (IA) columns and analysed by liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection. Ochratoxin A (OTA) or fumonisin and aflatoxin derivatives were detected and quantified. The quantification limits were 0.015 ng m-3 OTA, 1 ng m-3 fumonisins or 0.5 pg m-3 aflatoxins, with a minimum dust concentration level of 1 mg m-3 and a 4800L air volume sampling. The methods were successfully applied to field measurements, which confirmed that workers could be exposed when handling contaminated materials. It was observed that airborne particles may be more contaminated than the bulk material itself. The validated methods have measuring ranges fully adapted to the concentrations found in the workplace. Their performance meets the general requirements laid down for chemical agent measurement procedures, with an expanded uncertainty less than 50% for most mycotoxins. The analytical uncertainty, comprised between 14 and 24%, was quite satisfactory given the low mycotoxin amounts, when compared to the food benchmarks. the authors concluded that the methods are now user-friendly enough to be adopted for personal workplace sampling. They will later allow for mycotoxin occupational risk assessment, as only very few quantitative data have been available until now.

Authors: Jargot, Daniele; Melin, Sandrine ;Full Source: Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 2013, 15(3), 633-644 (English) ;