Suspect and non-targeted screening-based human biomonitoring identified 74 biomarkers of exposure in urine of Slovenian children


Human exposure to organic contaminants is widespread. Many of these contaminants show adverse health effects on human population. Human biomonitoring (HBM) follows the levels and the distribution of biomarkers of exposure (BoE), but it is usually done in a targeted manner. Suspect and non-targeted screening (SS/NTS) tend to find BoE in an agnostic way, without preselection of compounds, and include finding evidence of exposure to predicted, unpredicted known and unknown chemicals. This study describes the application of high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS)-based SS/NTS workflow for revealing organic contaminants in urine of a cohort of 200 children from Slovenia, aged 6-9 years. The children originated from two regions, urban and rural, and the latter were sampled in two time periods, summer and winter. We tentatively identified 74 BoE at the confidence levels of 2 and 3. These BoE belong to several classes of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, plasticizers and plastic related products, volatile organic compounds, nicotine, caffeine and pesticides. The risk of three pesticides, atrazine, amitraz and diazinon is of particular concern since their use was limited in the EU. Among BoE we tentatively identified compounds that have not yet been monitored in HBM schemes and demonstrate limited exposure data, such as bisphenol G, polyethylene glycols and their ethers. Furthermore, 7 compounds with unknown use and sources of exposure were tentatively identified, either indicating the entry of new chemicals into the market, or their metabolites and transformation products. Interestingly, several BoE showed location and time dependency. Globally, this study presents high-throughput approach to SS/NTS for HBM. The results shed a light on the exposure of Slovenian children and raise questions on potential adverse health effects of such mixtures on this vulnerable population.

Authors: Žiga Tkalec, Garry Codling, Janja Snoj Tratnik, Darja Mazej, Jana Klánová, Milena Horvat, Tina Kosjek
; Full Source: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 2022 Sep 2;313:120091. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.120091.