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Environ Int. 2018 Jan;110:131-138. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.10.022. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

Gestational exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in Northeastern British Columbia, Canada: A pilot study.

Author information

1
Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Université de Montréal, 2375 chemin de la Cote-Sainte-Catherine, Montreal, QC H3T 1A8, Canada; Université de Montréal Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM), Université de Montréal, 7101, Parc Ave., Montreal, QC H3N 1X7, Canada; INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Université du Québec, 531 boulevard des Prairies, Laval, QC H7V 1B7, Canada; Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Well-Being, Health, Society and Environment (CINBIOSE), Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succursale Centre-ville, Montreal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada. Electronic address: elyse.caron-beaudoin@umontreal.ca.
2
Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Université de Montréal, 2375 chemin de la Cote-Sainte-Catherine, Montreal, QC H3T 1A8, Canada; Université de Montréal Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM), Université de Montréal, 7101, Parc Ave., Montreal, QC H3N 1X7, Canada.
3
Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University Faculty of Medecine, 1020 Pine Avenue West, room 42, Montreal, QC H3A 1A2, Canada.
4
Centre de toxicologie du Québec, Institut National de la Santé Publique du Québec, 945 avenue Wolfe, Québec, QC G1V 5B3, Canada; Axe Santé des Populations et Pratiques Optimales en Santé, Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, 1050 Chemin Ste-Foy, Québec, QC G1S 4L8, Canada.
5
Université de Montréal Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM), Université de Montréal, 7101, Parc Ave., Montreal, QC H3N 1X7, Canada; Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health, Université de Montréal, 7101 Av du Parc, Montréal, QC H3N 1X9, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Northeastern British Columbia (Canada) is an area of intense hydraulic fracturing for unconventional natural gas exploitation. There have been multiple reports of air and water contamination by volatile organic compounds in the vicinity of gas wells. Although these chemicals are known developmental toxicants, no biomonitoring effort has been carried out in the region.

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate gestational exposure to benzene and toluene in the Peace River Valley, Northeastern British Columbia (Canada).

METHODS:

Urine samples were collected over five consecutive days from 29 pregnant women. Metabolites of benzene (s-phenylmercapturic acid (S-PMA) and trans, trans-muconic acid (t,t-MA)) and toluene (s-benzylmercapturic acid (S-BMA)) were measured in pooled urine samples from each participant. Levels of benzene metabolites were compared to those from the general Canadian population and from a biomonitoring study of residents from an area of active gas exploitation in Pavillion, Wyoming (USA). Levels measured in participants from the two recruitment sites, and self-identifying as Indigenous or non-Indigenous, were also compared.

RESULTS:

Whereas the median S-PMA level (0.18μg/g creatinine) in our study was similar to that in the general Canadian population, the median t,t-MA level (180μg/g creatinine) was approximately 3.5 times higher. Five women had t,t-MA levels above the biological exposure index® proposed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. The median urinary S-BMA level in our pilot study was 7.00μg/g creatinine. Urinary metabolite levels were slightly higher in self-identifying Indigenous women, but this difference was only statistically significant for S-PMA.

DISCUSSION:

Urinary t,t-MA levels, but not S-PMA levels, measured in our study are suggestive of a higher benzene exposure in participating pregnant women from the Peace River Valley than in the general Canadian population. Given the small sample size and limitations of t,t-MA measurements (e.g., non-specificity), more extensive monitoring is warranted.

PMID:
29122312
DOI:
10.1016/j.envint.2017.10.022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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