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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2014 Nov;24(6):643-9. doi: 10.1038/jes.2014.14. Epub 2014 Mar 12.

Biological monitoring of exposure to tebuconazole in winegrowers.

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Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Milano and Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy.
Department of Health Sciences of the University of Milan, Laboratory for Analytical Toxicology and Metabolomics (LaTMA) and International Centre for Rural Health of the University Hospital San Paolo, Milan, Italy.
Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, University of Milano, and International Centre for Pesticides and Health Risks Protection (ICPS), Luigi Sacco Hospital, Milano, Italy.


Tebuconazole (TEB) is a fungicide widely used in vineyards and is a suspected teratogen for humans. The aim of this research was to identify urinary biomarkers and the best sampling time for the biological monitoring of exposure to TEB in agricultural workers. Seven vineyard workers of the Monferrato region, Piedemont, Italy, were investigated for a total of 12 workdays. They treated the vineyards with TEB for 1-2 consecutive days, one of them for 3 days. During each application coveralls, underwears, hand washing liquids and head coverings were used to estimate dermal exposure. For biomonitoring, spot samples of urine from each individual were collected starting from 24 h before the first application, continuing during the application, and again after the application for about 48 h. TEB and its metabolites TEB-OH and TEB-COOH were measured by liquid chromatography/triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. TEB contamination of coveralls and total dermal exposure showed median levels of 6180 and 1020 μg. Urinary TEB-OH was the most abundant metabolite; its excretion rate peaked within 24 h after product application (post 24 h). In this time frame, median levels of TEB-OH and TEB-COOH ranged from 8.0 to 387.8 μg/l and from 5.7 to 102.9 μg/l, respectively, with a ratio between the two metabolites of about 3.5. The total amount of urinary metabolites (U-TEBeq) post 24 h was significantly correlated with both TEB on coveralls and total dermal exposure (Pearson's r=0.756 and 0.577). The amount of metabolites excreted in urine represented about 17% of total dermal TEB exposure. Our results suggest that TEB-OH and TEB-COOH in post-exposure urine samples are promising candidates for biomonitoring TEB exposure in agricultural workers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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