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Anal Chem. 2000 Sep 1;72(17):4127-34.

Quantitative detection of eight phthalate metabolites in human urine using HPLC-APCI-MS/MS.

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  • 1Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.


Because of the ubiquity of phthalates and their potential role in increasing risk for cancer and reproductive dysfunction, the need for human exposure assessment studies is urgent. In response to this need, we developed a high-throughput, robust, sensitive, accurate, and precise assay for simultaneous measurement of trace levels of eight phthalate metabolites in human urine by HPLC-MS/MS. Human urine samples were processed using enzymatic deconjugation of the glucuronides followed by solid-phase extraction. The eluate was concentrated, and the phthalate metabolites were chromatographically resolved by reversed-phase HPLC, detected by APCI-tandem mass spectrometry, and quantified by isotope dilution. This selective analytical method permits rapid detection (7.7 min total run time) of eight urinary metabolites of the most commonly used phthalates with detection limits in the low nanagram per milliliter range. Assay precision was improved by incorporating 13C4-labeled internal standards for each of the eight analytes, as well as a conjugated internal standard to monitor deconjugation efficiency. This selective, sensitive, and rapid method will help elucidate potential associations (if any) between human exposure to phthalates and adverse health effects.

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