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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2012 Nov;22(6):625-31. doi: 10.1038/jes.2012.51. Epub 2012 May 30.

Expressing urine from a gel disposable diaper for biomonitoring using phthalates as an example.

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Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen, China.


The urinary metabolites of phthalates are well-accepted exposure biomarkers for adults and children older than 6 years but are not commonly used for infants owing to non-convenient sampling. In the light of this situation, a novel sampling method based on monitoring the urine expressed from the gel diaper was developed. The urine was expressed from the gel absorbent after mixing the absorbent with CaCl(2) and then collected by a laboratory-made device; the urinary phthalate metabolites were extracted and cleaned using a solid-phase extraction (SPE) column and analyzed with high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry / mass spectrometry. To evaluate the method's feasibility, the following factors were investigated: the proportion of CaCl(2) to gel absorbent, the urination volume variation and the target compounds' deposition bias in the diaper, the matrix blank of the different diaper brands, the storage stabilities and the recoveries of creatinine and phthalate metabolites in the expressed urine. Mono-methyl phthalate, mono-ethyl phthalate, mono-butyl phthalate, mono-benzyl phthalate, mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate and mono-2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl phthalate were involved. 70-80% of the urine can be expressed from the diaper, and the expressed spiking recoveries and the limit of detection of mono-phthalates ranged from 88.5-115% and 0.21-0.50‚ÄČng/ml. The method was applied to measure phthalate metabolites in 65 gel diaper samples from 15 infants, and the pilot data suggests the infants are commonly exposed to phthalates. In summary, the method for monitoring of infant exposure to phthalates is sound and validated, and the potential health effects from the vulnerable infants' exposure to phthalates should be concerned.

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