Development of an analytical strategy based on LC-MS/MS for the measurement of different classes of pesticides and theirs metabolites in meconium: Application and characterisation of foetal exposure in France
It is important to evaluate the impact of pesticides on human health because exposure to these compounds has been linked to harmful effects in many research studies. This exposure may be particularly harmful during the early stages of development (e.g. the prenatal period). The aim of the present study was to develop an analytical strategy for quantifying a number of pesticides and their metabolites in meconium (the neonate׳s first faeces), in order to characterize the extent of foetal exposure. The meconium sample was dried and grinded in order to homogenize the sample, prior to solid-liquid extraction and a purification by solid-phase extraction using a weak anion mixed-mode polymeric sorbent. Analyte separation and quantification was performed by liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. Five pesticide families (carbamates, organophosphates, pyrethroids, phenylureas and phenoxy herbicides) and their metabolites could be quantified in meconium with limits of quantification ranging between 0.2ng/g and 200ng/g. This method was applied to a set of 171 meconium samples collected in the Picardie region of northern France. The highest prevalence was observed for metabolites of organophosphates and carbamates (57.9% and 22.8%, respectively). The parent pesticides were rarely present and were only found at very low concentrations, except for the pyrethroids cyfluthrin and cypermethrin, which were found in 7.6% of meconium samples at concentrations of between 43.8 and 480ng/g. The most frequently detected contaminant was the organophosphate metabolite dimethyl thiophosphate detected in 49.1% of the samples and quantified with a median concentration of 344ng/g. These data evidence significant foetal exposure to organophosphate pesticides, pyrethroids and carbamates.