Publications by authors named "Guido Vanermen"

20 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Mothers and children are related, even in exposure to chemicals present in common consumer products.

Environ Res 2019 08 21;175:297-307. Epub 2019 May 21.

Toxicological Center, University of Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

Background: Phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan (TCS) are detectable in the vast majority of people. Most humans are continuously exposed to these chemicals due to their presence in food or in everyday consumer products. The measurement of these compounds in family members may help to explore the impact of major lifestyle factors on exposure. Mothers and (young) children are especially interesting to study, as they mostly share considerable parts of daily life together.

Materials And Methods: Phthalate metabolites, bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan (TCS) were measured in first morning void urine, collected in mother-child pairs (n = 129) on the same day. The mothers (27-45y) and their children (6-11y) were recruited in the Brussels agglomeration and rural areas of Belgium in the context of the European COPHES-DEMOCOPHES human biomonitoring project. Face-to-face questionnaires gathered information on major exposure sources and lifestyle factors. Exposure determinants were assessed by multiple linear regression analysis.

Results: The investigated compounds were detectable in nearly all mothers (92.8-100%) and all children (95.2-100%). The range (P vs. P) of differences in urinary concentrations within each age group was for most compounds around 10-20 fold, and was very high for TCS up to 35 and 350-fold in children and mothers respectively. Some participants exceeded the tolerable daily intake guidelines as far as they were available from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Overall, for BPA, the urinary concentrations were similar among both age groups. Most urinary phthalate metabolites were higher in children compared to the mothers, except for monoethyl phthalate (MEP). TCS levels were generally higher in the mothers. Despite the difference in mothers' and children's urinary concentrations, the creatinine-corrected levels were correlated for all biomarkers (Spearman rank r = 0.32 to 0.66, p < 0.001). Furthermore, for phthalates, similar home and lifestyle factors were associated with the urinary concentrations in both age groups: home renovation during last two years or redecoration during the last year for di-ethyl phthalate (DEP); PVC in home for di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), di-iso-butyl phthalate (DiBP) and butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), and personal care products use for DiBP and DnBP. Based on questionnaire information on general food type consumption patterns, the exposure variability could not be explained. However, comparing the phthalate intake from the current study with earlier assessed Belgian food intake calculations for both ages, food in general was estimated to be the major intake source for di-ethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP), with diminishing importance for BBzP, DiBP and DnBP.

Conclusion: Our results confirm, that children and their mothers, sharing diets and home environments, also share exposure in common consumer products related chemicals. By collecting morning urine levels on the same day, and using basic questionnaires, suspected exposure routes could be unraveled.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2019.05.023DOI Listing
August 2019

Long-term exposure assessment to phthalates: How do nail analyses compare to commonly used measurements in urine.

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci 2016 Nov 28;1036-1037:124-135. Epub 2016 Sep 28.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO NV), Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium. Electronic address:

Phthalate esters (PEs) are easily metabolized and commonly excreted via urine within 24h, therefore their bioaccumulation potential is thought to be rather low. In the present study, we developed a sample preparation combined with a new microextraction method to measure seven PE metabolites in nails. The use of whole nails did not result in significantly different levels compared to powdered nails, which makes the method very fast and user friendly. The method was validated using whole nails showing good accuracy, satisfactory precision and low limits of quantification (2-14ng/g). Although method development was the primary aim of the study, the method was also applied to real samples. PEs were measured in nails of 9 individuals collected at 2 distinct time points (15 days apart) and compared to levels in the respective urine samples (daily morning sample for 15 days). Additionally two volunteers have collected two more urine spots (afternoon and evening) per day. Major metabolites in nails were mono (ethyl hexyl) phthalate (MEHP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and sum of mono-n-butyl and mono-isobutyl phthalate (Σ(MnBP, MiBP)) while MEP and Σ(MnBP, MiBP) were the major ones identified in urine. In urine, first void morning urine reflected higher total excretion (sum of PEs of 7.0μg/g creatinine) for all individuals than the afternoon/evening voids. Participants also filled a questionnaire regarding their life-style. The use of hand care products and consumption of pre-packed food was associated with di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) oxidative metabolites, while the use of medical devices with butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) exposure. Although the metabolism (rate) and other factors that influence the transfer of the analytes from blood or other body compartments into nails needs further investigation, nails can be used to assess exposure to PEs. From our knowledge, urine reflects the excretion of PEs on 'daily basis' while nails show less fluctuation and more stable levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jchromb.2016.09.039DOI Listing
November 2016

Ultrasound assisted extraction combined with dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction (US-DLLME)-a fast new approach to measure phthalate metabolites in nails.

Anal Bioanal Chem 2016 Sep 2;408(22):6169-80. Epub 2016 Jul 2.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO NV), Boeretang 200, 2400, Mol, Belgium.

A new, fast, and environmentally friendly method based on ultrasound assisted extraction combined with dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction (US-DLLME) was developed and optimized for assessing the levels of seven phthalate metabolites (including the mono(ethyl hexyl) phthalate (MEHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (5-OH-MEHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (5-oxo-MEHP), mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP), mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP), and mono-benzyl phthalate (MBzP)) in human nails by UPLC-MS/MS. The optimization of the US-DLLME method was performed using a Taguchi combinatorial design (L9 array). Several parameters such as extraction solvent, solvent volume, extraction time, acid, acid concentration, and vortex time were studied. The optimal extraction conditions achieved were 180 μL of trichloroethylene (extraction solvent), 2 mL trifluoroacetic acid in methanol (2 M), 2 h extraction and 3 min vortex time. The optimized method had a good precision (6-17 %). The accuracy ranged from 79 to 108 % and the limit of method quantification (LOQm) was below 14 ng/g for all compounds. The developed US-DLLME method was applied to determine the target metabolites in 10 Belgian individuals. Levels of the analytes measured in nails ranged between <12 and 7982 ng/g. The MEHP, MBP isomers, and MEP were the major metabolites and detected in every sample. Miniaturization (low volumes of organic solvents used), low costs, speed, and simplicity are the main advantages of this US-DLLME based method. Graphical Abstract Extraction and phase separation of the US-DLLME procedure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00216-016-9727-1DOI Listing
September 2016

New approach for assessing human perfluoroalkyl exposure via hair.

Talanta 2015 Nov 4;144:574-83. Epub 2015 Jul 4.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO NV), Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium.

In the recent years hair has been increasingly used as alternative matrix in human biomonitoring (HBM) of environmental pollutants. Sampling advantages and time integration of exposure assessment seems the most attractive features of hair matrix. In the current study, a novel miniaturized method was developed and validated for measuring 15 perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluoro n-butanoic acid (PFBA), perfluoro n-pentanoic acid (PFPeA), perfluoro n-hexanoic acid (PFHxA), perfluoro n-heptanoic acid (PFHpA), perfluor n-octanoic acid (PFOA), perfluoro n-nonanoic acid (PFNA), perfluoro tetradecanoic acid (PFTeDA), perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), perfluoro pentane sulfonic acid (PFPeS), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluoroheptane sulfonic acid (PFHpS), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononane sulfonic acid (PFNS), perfluorodecane sulfonic acid (PFDS) and perfluorododecane sulfonic acid (PFDoS) in human hair by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). After extraction using ethyl acetate, dispersive ENVI-Carb was used for clean-up. Good intra- and inter-day precision for low (LQ 5 ng/g hair) and high spike (HQ 15n g/g) levels were achieved (in general RSD <10%). The accuracy was assessed using recoveries (%), which ranged between 68-118% (LQ) and 70-121% (HQ). The instrumental limit of detection (LODi) and limit of quantification (LOQi) were between 1-4 pg/g hair and 3-13 pg/g hair, respectively. The method limit of quantification (LOQm) ranged between 6 and 301 pg/g hair. The PFAS levels were measured in 30 human hair samples indicating that the levels are low (14-1534 pg/g hair). Some PFAS were not present in any hair sample (e.g. PFHpA, PFTeDA, PFNA, PFPeS, PFHpS, PFOS and PFNS), while other PFAS were frequently detected (PFBA, PFPeA, PFHxA, PFOA, PFBS, PFHxS, PFOS, PFDS and PFDoS) in human hair. Although levels in general were low, there is evidence of higher human exposure to some analytes, such as PFBA, PFPeA, PFHxA, PFOA, PFBS, PFHxS, and PFDoS. The current study shows that hair is a suitable alternative non-invasive matrix for exposure assessment of PFAS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.talanta.2015.07.009DOI Listing
November 2015

Timing matters: sensitivity of Daphnia magna dormant eggs to fenoxycarb exposure depends on embryonic developmental stage.

Aquat Toxicol 2015 Feb 19;159:176-83. Epub 2014 Dec 19.

Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, University of Leuven, Charles Deberiotstraat 32, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

Although Daphnia magna is a key species in many lentic freshwater ecosystems and is commonly used as model organism in ecology and ecotoxicology, very little is known about the effects of chemicals on their dormant life stages. Dormant eggs (ephippia) are produced when environmental conditions deteriorate, and Daphnia switch from clonal to sexual reproduction. Ephippia produced over different growing seasons can accumulate in the sediment of ponds and lakes, where they can be exposed to pesticides and other (anthropogenic) stressors. In the present study, we have investigated the effects of pesticide exposure on dormant eggs at different embryonic developmental stages and evaluated the degree of protection against pollution provided by the ephippial case. We therefore conducted a hatching experiment in which decapsulated and encapsulated dormant eggs were exposed to an insect growth regulator (fenoxycarb) at different stages during their development, both before and after activation of the eggs. In addition, we developed an analytical method to measure fenoxycarb concentrations in the dormant eggs. Fenoxycarb negatively affected development and hatching success and changed the timing of hatching in activated and in dormant eggs. Hatching characteristics as well as fenoxycarb concentrations inside the eggs differed significantly between exposure treatments. Final stages of embryonic development were most sensitive to pesticide exposure and had the highest tissue concentrations of fenoxycarb. Tissue concentrations did not differ significantly between decapsulated and encapsulated eggs, suggesting that the ephippial case offers limited or no direct protection against pesticide exposure. With this study we provide new evidence showing that pesticides can bioconcentrate in and affect D. magna dormant eggs. The severity of the effects on developing embryos depends on the timing of pesticide exposure. Our results stress the importance of considering the full life-cycle of model organisms used in ecotoxicological studies, since these are ultimately aimed at assessing risks of chemical exposure on natural aquatic ecosystems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquatox.2014.12.016DOI Listing
February 2015

Novel concepts for preparation of reference materials as whole water samples for priority substances at nanogram-per-liter level using model suspended particulate matter and humic acids.

Anal Bioanal Chem 2015 Apr 7;407(11):3055-67. Epub 2014 Dec 7.

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM), Retieseweg 111, 2440, Geel, Belgium.

One of the unresolved issues of the European Water Framework Directive is the unavailability of realistic water reference materials for the organic priority pollutants at low nanogram-per-liter concentrations. In the present study, three different types of ready-to-use water test materials were developed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and tributyltin (TBT) at nanogram-per-liter levels. The first type simulated the dissolved phase in the water and comprised of a solution of humic acids (HA) at 5 mg L(-1) dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and a spike of the target compounds. The second type of water sample incorporated the particulate phase in water. To this end, model suspended particulate matter (SPM) with a realistic particle size was produced by jet milling soil and sediments containing known amounts of PAHs, PBDEs and TBT and added as slurry to mineral water. The most complex test materials mimicked "whole water" consequently containing both phases, the model SPM and the HA solution with the target analytes strongly bound to the SPM. In this paper, the development of concepts, processing of the starting materials, characterisation of the HA and model SPMs as well as results for homogeneity and stability testing of the ready-to-use test materials are described in detail.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00216-014-8349-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4383825PMC
April 2015

Non-invasive biomonitoring for PFRs and PBDEs: new insights in analysis of human hair externally exposed to selected flame retardants.

Sci Total Environ 2015 Feb 11;505:1062-71. Epub 2014 Nov 11.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Industrial Innovation Group, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium. Electronic address:

In this study, we investigated the hypothesis whether externally adsorbed and internally deposited flame retardants (FRs) in hair could be distinguished. To this extent, hair samples collected from one volunteer were exposed under controlled conditions to phosphate FR (PFR) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) standards to mimic external contamination. Afterwards, suitable washing procedures to selectively remove contaminants from the hair surface were investigated. The samples were measured by GC-(ECNI)-MS for PBDEs and LC-(ESI+)-MS/MS for PFRs. All investigated compounds were transferred onto the hair surface. One of the most important finding was that dust particles are not mandatory to transfer compounds on the hair surface and to be able to measure high levels of compounds in human hair. To assess different protocols to selectively remove external contamination, the exposed hair samples were washed in different media before analysis: water, methanol, hexane:dichloromethane (1:1, v/v), acetone and shampoo. Results indicated that there is no washing medium able to entirely and exclusively remove external contamination. Among investigated media, methanol removed a meaningful part of the external contamination (42-105%), but the removal efficiencies differed among compounds. We therefore concluded that hair should not be washed prior to analysis and in case of visible contamination (e.g. with cosmetic products), water would be the recommended agent. Organic solvents should not be used for the washing step. Although it is impossible to distinguish external from internal exposure, hair samples may be used as valuable biomarker of human exposure, providing a measure of integral exposure. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study which has used externally exposed hair samples to PBDEs and PFRs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.10.043DOI Listing
February 2015

Determination of contamination pathways of phthalates in food products sold on the Belgian market.

Environ Res 2014 Oct 7;134:345-52. Epub 2014 Sep 7.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Boeretang 200, B-2400 Mol, Belgium; Ghent University, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium. Electronic address:

As numerous studies have indicated that food ingestion is the most important exposure pathway to several phthalates, this study aimed to determine possible contamination pathways of phthalates in food products sold on the Belgian market. To do this, concentrations of eight phthalates (dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), benzylbutyl phthalate (BBP), dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP), di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP)) were determined in 591 foods and 30 packaging materials. In general, the four most prominent phthalates in Belgian food products were DEHP, DiBP, DnBP and BBP. Special attention was given to the origin of these phthalates in bread, since high phthalate concentrations (especially DEHP) were determined in this frequently consumed food product. Phthalates seemed to occur in Belgian bread samples due to the use of contaminated ingredients (i.e. use of contaminated flour) as well as due to migration from phthalate containing contact materials used during production (e.g. coated baking trays). Also the results of the conducted concentration profiles of apple, bread, salami and two cheese types revealed the important role of processing - and not packaging - on phthalate contents in foods.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2014.08.012DOI Listing
October 2014

Development of a broad spectrum method for measuring flame retardants - overcoming the challenges of non-invasive human biomonitoring studies.

Anal Bioanal Chem 2014 Oct 30;406(26):6665-75. Epub 2014 Aug 30.

Industrial Innovation Group, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Boeretang 200, 2400, Mol, Belgium,

Flame retardants (FRs), such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and phosphate flame retardants (PFRs), are a diverse group of compounds that are used to improve fire safety in many consumer products, such as furniture, textiles, electronics, etc. As these compounds are potentially harmful for human health, there is a need to better understand human exposure. Exposure to environmental contaminants can be monitored by the measurement of external sources of exposures and also by the determination of contaminant levels in human samples. For ethical and practical reasons, noninvasive matrices, such as hair, are preferred but, unfortunately, not widely used due to methodological limitations. A major challenge is sample availability: only small amounts can be sampled per individual. Multi-residue methods are therefore essential in order to determine multiple compounds in low sample amounts. In the framework of the FP7 project (INFLAME), an analytical method for the simultaneous determination of PBDEs and PFRs in human hair has been optimized and validated. Before extraction, hair samples (200 mg) were denaturated in nitric acid (HNO3) for 25 min at 25 °C. Consecutively, the samples were extracted using a mixture of hexane:dichloromethane, and extracts were further fractionated on Florisil. Fraction A which contained PBDEs was additionally cleaned on acidified silica gel and measured by gas chromatography coupled with electron capture negative ionization mass spectrometry (GC-ECNI-MS), while fraction B containing PFRs was directly analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). This approach resulted in recoveries between 81-120% for PBDEs and 75-113% for PFRs (relative standard deviation (RSD) < 16%, n = 9). The optimized multi-residue method has been applied to 20 human hair samples. The obtained results indicated that the levels of PBDEs in hair samples were very low (0.2-12 ng/g) in relation to PBDE levels in human hair samples from other studies and most of the time below the method limit of quantification (LOQm). On the contrary, the PFR levels were relatively high as they were in the range of the levels previously found in dust samples (2-5,032 ng/g hair). We would like to highlight that the contribution of air and dust cannot be neglected (especially in the case of PFRs); therefore, we suggest that hair might be a good indicator of retrospective and integral exposure (which includes atmospheric deposition as well as endogenous mechanisms). Moreover, the aim of our study is focused on exposure assessment and levels detected in hair (independently of whether they come from internal or external exposure) and will significantly contribute to the exposure assessment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00216-014-8106-zDOI Listing
October 2014

Determinants of bisphenol A and phthalate metabolites in urine of Flemish adolescents.

Environ Res 2014 Oct 13;134:110-7. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

Environmental Risk and Health Unit, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Belgium.

As part of the second Flemish Environment and Health Study (FLEHS II), bisphenol-A (BPA) and different phthalate metabolites were analyzed, for the first time, in the urine of 210 adolescents in Flanders, Belgium. All chemicals had a detection frequency above 90%. For all compounds, except the sum of DEHP, highest levels were detected during spring. Average values for the Flemish adolescents were in an agreement with concentrations found in different international studies, all confirming the ubiquity of BPA and phthalate exposure. There was a significant correlation between BPA and the different phthalate metabolites (r between 0.26 and 0.39; p<0.01). Shared sources of exposure to BPA and phthalates, such as food packaging, were suggested to be responsible for this positive correlation. Different determinants of exposure were evaluated in relation to the urinary concentrations of these chemicals. For BPA, a significant association was observed with household income class, smoking and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. For phthalates, the following significant associations were observed: age (MBzP), educational level of the adolescent (MBzP), equivalent household income (MnBP), use of personal care products (MnBP and MBzP), wall paper in house (MnBP and MBzP) and use of local vegetables (MnBP and MBzP).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2014.07.020DOI Listing
October 2014

Human biomonitoring of emerging pollutants through non-invasive matrices: state of the art and future potential.

Anal Bioanal Chem 2014 Jul 15;406(17):4063-88. Epub 2014 May 15.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO NV), Boeretang 200, 2400, Mol, Belgium,

Human biomonitoring (HBM) is a scientific technique that allows us to assess whether and to what extent environmental pollutants enter humans. We review here the current HBM efforts for organophosphate esters, emerging flame retardants, perfluoroalkyl substances, and phthalate esters. Use of some of these chemicals has already been banned or restricted; they are regularly detected in the environment, wildlife, and human matrices. Traditionally, blood and urine collection have been widely used as sampling methods. New non-invasive approaches (e.g., saliva, hair, nails) are emerging as valid alternatives since they offer advantages with respect to sampling, handling, and ethical aspects, while ensuring similar reliability and sensitivity. Nevertheless, the identification of biomarkers of exposure is often difficult because chemicals may be metabolized in the human body. For many of the above-mentioned compounds, the mechanisms of the favorable metabolization pathways have not been unraveled, but research on important metabolites that could be used as biomarkers of exposure is growing. This review summarizes the state of the art regarding human exposure to, (non-invasive) HBM of, and metabolism of major organophosphate esters, emerging flame retardants, perfluoroalkyl substances, and phthalate esters currently detected in the environment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00216-014-7748-1DOI Listing
July 2014

The European COPHES/DEMOCOPHES project: towards transnational comparability and reliability of human biomonitoring results.

Int J Hyg Environ Health 2014 Jul 15;217(6):653-61. Epub 2013 Dec 15.

Laboratoire National de Santé, Luxembourg.

COPHES/DEMOCOPHES has its origins in the European Environment and Health Action Plan of 2004 to "develop a coherent approach on human biomonitoring (HBM) in Europe". Within this twin-project it was targeted to collect specimens from 120 mother-child-pairs in each of the 17 participating European countries. These specimens were investigated for six biomarkers (mercury in hair; creatinine, cotinine, cadmium, phthalate metabolites and bisphenol A in urine). The results for mercury in hair are described in a separate paper. Each participating member state was requested to contract laboratories, for capacity building reasons ideally within its borders, carrying out the chemical analyses. To ensure comparability of analytical data a Quality Assurance Unit (QAU) was established which provided the participating laboratories with standard operating procedures (SOP) and with control material. This material was specially prepared from native, non-spiked, pooled urine samples and was tested for homogeneity and stability. Four external quality assessment exercises were carried out. Highly esteemed laboratories from all over the world served as reference laboratories. Web conferences after each external quality assessment exercise functioned as a new and effective tool to improve analytical performance, to build capacity and to educate less experienced laboratories. Of the 38 laboratories participating in the quality assurance exercises 14 laboratories qualified for cadmium, 14 for creatinine, 9 for cotinine, 7 for phthalate metabolites and 5 for bisphenol A in urine. In the last of the four external quality assessment exercises the laboratories that qualified for DEMOCOPHES performed the determinations in urine with relative standard deviations (low/high concentration) of 18.0/2.1% for cotinine, 14.8/5.1% for cadmium, 4.7/3.4% for creatinine. Relative standard deviations for the newly emerging biomarkers were higher, with values between 13.5 and 20.5% for bisphenol A and between 18.9 and 45.3% for the phthalate metabolites. Plausibility control of the HBM results of all participating countries disclosed analytical shortcomings in the determination of Cd when using certain ICP/MS methods. Results were corrected by reanalyzes. The COPHES/DEMOCOPHES project for the first time succeeded in performing a harmonized pan-European HBM project. All data raised have to be regarded as utmost reliable according to the highest international state of the art, since highly renowned laboratories functioned as reference laboratories. The procedure described here, that has shown its success, can be used as a blueprint for future transnational, multicentre HBM projects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2013.12.002DOI Listing
July 2014

Phthalates dietary exposure and food sources for Belgian preschool children and adults.

Environ Int 2012 Nov 9;48:102-8. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Department of Public Health, Ghent University, UZ-2 Blok A, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.

Numerous studies have indicated that for phthalates, the intake of contaminated foods is the most important exposure pathway for the general population. Up to now, data on dietary phthalate intake are scarce and - to the authors' knowledge - not available for the Belgian population. Therefore, the purpose of this study was: (1) to assess the long-term intake of the Belgian population for eight phthalates considering different exposure scenarios (benzylbutyl phthalate (BBP); di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP); dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP); di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP); diethyl phthalate (DEP); diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP); dimethyl phthalate (DMP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP)); (2) to evaluate the intake of BBP, DnBP, DEP and DEHP against tolerable daily intake (TDI) values; and (3) to assess the contribution of the different food groups to the phthalate intake. The intake assessment was performed using two Belgian food consumption databases, one with consumption data of preschool children (2.5 to 6.5 years old) and another of adults (≥15 years old), combined with a database of phthalate concentrations measured in over 550 food products sold on the Belgian market. Phthalate intake was calculated using the 'Monte Carlo Risk Assessment' programme (MCRA 7.0). The intake of DEHP was the highest, followed by DiBP. The intake of BBP, DnBP and DEP was far below the TDI for both children and adults. However, for DEHP, the 99th percentile of the intake distribution of preschoolers in the worst case exposure scenario was equal to 80% of the TDI, respectively. This is not negligible, since other exposure routes of DEHP exist for children as well (e.g. mouthing of toys). Bread was the most important contributor to the DEHP intake and this may deserve further exploration, since the origin of this phthalate in bread remains unclear.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2012.07.004DOI Listing
November 2012

Toxicogenomic response of Rhodospirillum rubrum S1H to the micropollutant triclosan.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2010 Jun 2;76(11):3503-13. Epub 2010 Apr 2.

Laboratory for Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET), Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, Ghent, Belgium.

In the framework of the Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (MELiSSA) project, a pilot study was performed to identify the effects of triclosan on the MELiSSA carbon-mineralizing microorganism Rhodospirillum rubrum S1H. Triclosan is a biocide that is commonly found in human excrement and is considered an emerging pollutant in wastewater and the environment. Chronic exposure to MELiSSA-relevant concentrations (> or =25 microg liter(-1)) of triclosan resulted in a significant extension of the lag phase of this organism but hardly affected the growth rate. Analytical determinations gave no indication of triclosan biodegradation during the growth experiment, and flow cytometric viability analyses revealed that triclosan is bacteriostatic and only slightly toxic to R. rubrum S1H. Using microarray analyses, the genetic mechanisms supporting the reversibility of triclosan-induced inhibition were scrutinized. An extremely triclosan-responsive cluster of four small adjacent genes was identified, for which there was up to 34-fold induction with 25 microg liter(-1) triclosan. These four genes, for which the designation microf (micropollutant-upregulated factor) is proposed, appear to be unique to R. rubrum and are shown here for the first time to be involved in the response to stress. Moreover, numerous other systems that are associated with the proton motive force were shown to be responsive to triclosan, but they were never as highly upregulated as the microf genes. In response to triclosan, R. rubrum S1H induced transcription of the phage shock protein operon (pspABC), numerous efflux systems, cell envelope consolidation mechanisms, the oxidative stress response, beta-oxidation, and carbonic anhydrase, while there was downregulation of bacterial conjugation and carboxysome synthesis genes. The microf genes and three efflux-related genes showed the most potential to be low-dose biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01254-09DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2876461PMC
June 2010

Combining HPLC-GCXGC, GCXGC/ToF-MS, and selected ecotoxicity assays for detailed monitoring of petroleum hydrocarbon degradation in soil and leaching water.

Environ Sci Technol 2009 Oct;43(20):7651-7

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Mol, Belgium.

HPLC-GCXGC/FID (high-performance liquid chromatography followed by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with flame-ionization detection) and GCXGC/ToF-MS (comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with time-of-flight mass spectrometry) were used to study the biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in soil microcosms during 20 weeks. Two soils were studied: one spiked with fresh diesel and one field sample containing weathered diesel-like oil. Nutrient amended and unamended samples were included. Total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) levels in spiked soil decreased from 15,000 to 7,500 mg/kg d.m. and from 12,0O0 to 4,000 mg/kg d.m. in the field soil. Linear alkanes and aromatic hydrocarbons were better biodegradable (>60% degraded) than iso-alkanes; cycloalkanes were least degradable (<40%). Aromatic hydrocarbons up to three rings showed better degradability than n-alkanes. GCXGC/ToF-MS analysis of leaching water showed that initially various oxygenated hydrocarbons were produced. Compound peaks seemed to move up and rightward in the GCXGC chromatograms, indicating that more polar and heavier compounds were formed as biodegradation proceeded. Nutrient amendment can increase TPH removal rates, but had adverse effects on ecotoxicity and leaching potential in our experiment This was explained by observed shifts in the soil microbial community. Ecotoxicity assays showed that residual TPH still inhibited cress (Lepidium sativum) seed germination, but the leaching water was no longer toxic toward luminescent bacteria (Vibrio fischeri).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es9015603DOI Listing
October 2009

Estimation of ecotoxicity of petroleum hydrocarbon mixtures in soil based on HPLC-GCXGC analysis.

Chemosphere 2009 Dec 30;77(11):1508-13. Epub 2009 Oct 30.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Boeretang 200, B-2400 Mol, Belgium.

Detailed HPLC-GCXGC/FID (high performance liquid chromatography followed by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with flame-ionization detection) analysis of oil-contaminated soils was performed to interpret results of selected acute ecotoxicity assays. For the five ecotoxicity assays tested, plant seed germination and Microtox were selected as most sensitive for evaluating ecotoxicity of the oil in the soil phase and in the leaching water, respectively. The measured toxicity for cress when testing the soil samples did not correspond to TPH concentration in the soil. A detailed chemical composition analysis of the oil contamination using HPLC-GCXGC/FID allows to better predict the ecotoxicological risk and leaching potential of petroleum hydrocarbons in soil. Cress biomass production per plant was well correlated to the total aromatic hydrocarbon concentration (R2=0.79, n=6), while cress seed germination was correlated (R2=0.82, n=6) with total concentration of "highly water-soluble aromatic hydrocarbons" (HSaromatics). The observed ecotoxicity of the leaching water for Microtox-bacteria related well to calculated (based on the HPLC-GCXGC/FID results) petroleum hydrocarbon equilibrium concentrations in water.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.10.004DOI Listing
December 2009

Detailed analysis of petroleum hydrocarbon attenuation in biopiles by high-performance liquid chromatography followed by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography.

J Chromatogr A 2009 Feb 6;1216(9):1524-7. Epub 2009 Jan 6.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Boeretang 200, B-2400 Mol, Belgium.

Enhanced bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbons in two biopiles was quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) followed by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCXGC). The attenuation of 34 defined hydrocarbon classes was calculated by HPLC-GCXGC analysis of representative biopile samples at start-up and after 18 weeks of biopile operation. In general, a-cyclic alkanes were most efficiently removed from the biopiles, followed by monoaromatic hydrocarbons. Cycloalkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were more resistant to degradation. A-cyclic biomarkers farnesane, trimethyl-C13, norpristane, pristane and phytane dropped to only about 10% of their initial concentrations. On the other hand, C29-C31 hopane concentrations remained almost unaltered after 18 weeks of biopile operation, confirming their resistance to biodegradation. They are thus reliable indicators to estimate attenuation potential of petroleum hydrocarbons in biopile processed soils.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2008.12.087DOI Listing
February 2009

Aqueous solubility calculation for petroleum mixtures in soil using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography analysis data.

J Chromatogr A 2009 Apr 26;1216(14):2873-80. Epub 2008 Aug 26.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Boeretang 200, B-2400 Mol, Belgium.

An assessment of aqueous solubility (leaching potential) of soil contaminations with petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) is important in the context of the evaluation of (migration) risks and soil/groundwater remediation. Field measurements using monitoring wells often overestimate real TPH concentrations in case of presence of pure oil in the screened interval of the well. This paper presents a method to calculate TPH equilibrium concentrations in groundwater using soil analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography followed by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (HPLC-GCXGC). The oil in the soil sample is divided into 79 defined hydrocarbon fractions on two GCXGC color plots. To each of these fractions a representative water solubility is assigned. Overall equilibrium water solubility of the non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) present in the sample and the water phase's chemical composition (in terms of the 79 fractions defined) are then calculated using Raoult's law. The calculation method was validated using soil spiked with 13 different TPH mixtures and 1 field-contaminated soil. Measured water solubilities using a column recirculation equilibration experiment agreed well to calculated equilibrium concentrations and water phase TPH composition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2008.08.072DOI Listing
April 2009

High-performance liquid chromatography fractionation using a silver-modified column followed by two-dimensional comprehensive gas chromatography for detailed group-type characterization of oils and oil pollutions.

J Chromatogr A 2008 Jan 11;1179(1):33-40. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Boeretang 200, Mol, Belgium.

Successful remediation of oil-contaminated soils relies on a sound preceding characterization of the oil chemical composition and physicochemical properties. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GCxGC/FID) is known to be very suitable for the analysis of complex samples such as petroleum hydrocarbons. However, in spite of the high-separation power offered by GCxGC, it fails to completely separate certain hydrocarbon groups in petroleum hydrocarbon mixtures. This hampers a detailed chemical composition assessment which can lead to wrong conclusions on the behaviour of the oil in soil systems, e.g. biological degradability and water solubility. This paper describes a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system with a silver-modified column as a prefractionation step to GCxGC to improve chemical identification. With HPLC, the petroleum hydrocarbons were baseline separated into a saturated fraction (including alkanes and cycloalkanes) and an unsaturated fraction (including alkenes, aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic components). Each fraction eluted in a small time window limiting the dilution caused by HPLC. The two fractions were collected and quantitatively analyzed with GCxGC/FID. Cold splitless injection of 4 microl was adopted to compensate the dilution caused by the prefractionation step. With oil-spiked soil samples, a good reproducibility was obtained (RSD=3.5%; n=7) and the recovery was satisfactory (87.7%).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2007.09.085DOI Listing
January 2008

Application of comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography for the assessment of oil contaminated soils.

J Chromatogr A 2006 Dec 20;1137(1):91-100. Epub 2006 Oct 20.

VITO, Boeretang 200, B-2400 Mol, Belgium.

A crucial step in the remediation of oil contaminated soils is the characterization of the pollution. Information on the chemical composition is used to assess the toxicity (and thus the need for remediation) and to determine the most appropriate technology for treatment. Mostly these analyses are carried out in routine environmental laboratories using gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC/FID) based on a protocol developed by the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Criteria Working Group (TPHCWG). In the present study, an alternative method was developed using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCXGC) with FID. Sample preparation was limited to pressurized liquid extraction (PLE), and the analysis was carried out on a commercially available instrument with a conventional column combination (RTX-1/BPX50) and with standard chromatographic software. Compared to the TPH method, the group-types in the GCXGC analysis are chemically better defined and more specific information is obtained especially for the (toxicologically important) aromatic hydrocarbon fraction. Preliminary results indicate that higher recoveries and lower RSDs are obtained with GCXGC, probably because of the less complex sample preparation. Furthermore a data processing method was developed to generate TPH results from GCXGC data; the volatility distribution profiles compared very well with conventional TPH data. The possibility of extracting physicochemical properties directly from the GCXGC chromatogram was briefly explored, but software limitations hindered this promising application.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2006.10.014DOI Listing
December 2006