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Anal Chim Acta. 2008 Aug 1;622(1-2):150-6. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2008.05.068. Epub 2008 Jun 3.

Automated on-line column-switching HPLC-MS/MS method with peak focusing for measuring parabens, triclosan, and other environmental phenols in human milk.

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Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, United States.


Parabens (esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid) and triclosan are widely used as preservatives and antimicrobial agents, respectively, in personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and food processing. Because of their widespread use and potential risk to human health, assessing human exposure to these compounds in breastfed infants is of interest. We developed a sensitive method, using a unique on-line solid-phase extraction-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry system with peak focusing feature, to measure in human milk the concentrations of five parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, and benzyl parabens), triclosan, and six other environmental phenols: bisphenol A (BPA); ortho-phenylphenol (OPP); 2,4-dichlorophenol; 2,5-dichlorophenol; 2,4,5-trichlorophenol; and 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone (BP-3). The method, validated by use of breast milk pooled samples, shows good reproducibility (inter-day coefficient of variations ranging from 3.5% to 16.3%) and accuracy (spiked recoveries ranging from 84% to 119% at four spiking levels). The detection limits for most of the analytes are below 1 ng mL(-1) in 100 microL of milk. We tested the usefulness of the method by measuring the concentrations of these twelve compounds in four human milk samples. We detected methyl paraben, propyl paraben, triclosan, BPA, OPP, and BP-3 in some of the samples tested. The free species of these compounds appear to be the most prevalent in milk. Nevertheless, to demonstrate the utility of these measures for exposure and risk assessment purposes, additional data about sampling and storage of the milk, and on the stability of the analytes in milk, are needed.

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