Pentachlorophenol and nine other chlorophenols in urine of children and adolescents in Germany – Human biomonitoring results of the German Environmental Survey 2014-2017 (GerES V)


Chlorophenols comprise of a large group of chemicals used inter alia for the production of biocides, pharmaceuticals, other industrial products and are used e.g. as antiseptics or wood preservatives due to their biocidal properties. Several of them are classified as toxic to aquatic life and harmful to humans by ingestion, inhalation, or dermal contact, causing skin and eye irritation. Moreover, chlorophenols are possibly carcinogenic to humans. The most prominent chlorophenol – pentachlorophenol – is carcinogenic to humans, was banned in Germany in 1989 and further regulated by the European Commission in 2006 and included in the Stockholm Convention in 2017. Some chlorophenols are persistent in the environment and are also biodegradation products of precursor substances. To evaluate the health-relevance of recent exposure and monitor the effectiveness of regulatory measures, chlorophenols were analysed in the population-representative German Environmental Survey on Children and Adolescents 2014-2017 (GerES V). First-morning void urine samples of 485 3-17-year-old children and adolescents were analysed for ten chlorophenols. Pentachlorophenol was still quantified in 87% of the children and adolescents with a geometric mean (GM) concentration of 0.19 μg/L (0.16 μg/gcrea) and a maximum concentration of 6.7 μg/L (5.4 μg/gcrea). The maximum concentration was well below the health-based guidance value HBM-I of 25 μg/L (20 μg/gcrea). 4-Monochlorophenol was quantified in all samples with a GM concentration of 1.38 μg/L (1.14 μg/gcrea). 2-Monochlorophenol, 2,4-dichlorophenol, and 2,5-dichlorophenol were quantified in 97%, 98%, and 95% of the samples, with GMs of 0.26 μg/L (0.21 μg/gcrea), 0.24 μg/L (0.20 μg/gcrea), and 0.26 μg/L (0.21 μg/gcrea). 2,6-dichlorophenol, 2,3,4-trichlorophenol, and 2,4,5-trichlorophenol were quantified in 17-25% of the samples with GMs below the limit of quantification (LOQ) of 0.1 μg/L 2,4,6-trichlorophenol was quantified in 72% of the samples (GM: 0.13 μg/L, 0.11 μg/gcrea), 2,3,4,6-tetrachlorophenol in 44% of the samples (GM < LOQ). Comparison to previous cycles of GerES revealed substantially lower exposure to most of the chlorophenols in GerES V. Exposure levels found in Germany were comparatively low in contrast to North American results.

Authors: Maria I H Schmied-Tobies, Aline Murawski, Lukas Schmidt, Enrico Rucic, Gerda Schwedler, Petra Apel, Thomas Göen, Marike Kolossa-Gehring
; Full Source: Environmental research 2021 Mar 4;196:110958. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.110958.