B4567 - Anthropogenic Chemicals and Human Health - Non-invasive Human Biomonitoring Pilot Study - 27/03/2024

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Charlie Monkley | School of Chemistry, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Dr. Charlotte Lloyd, Dr. Alix Groom, Professor George Davey Smith, Chimnaz Emrah
Title of project: 
Anthropogenic Chemicals and Human Health - Non-invasive Human Biomonitoring Pilot Study
Proposal summary: 

This project seeks to develop a non-invasive, human biomonitoring method to assess human exposure to anthropogenically sourced chemicals. In our day to day lives, humans are exposed to a mixture of “man-made” chemicals from the materials we touch, the food we eat or air we breathe. Some of these environmental pollutants may persist and accumulate in the human body, with potentially harmful or unknown health implications. Such chemicals may include pesticides, commercial drugs, flame retardants, combustion products of fuels, plasticisers or cosmetic components. Aside from accumulation in the blood, which would require invasive sampling to assess exposure, some of these anthropogenic chemicals can accumulate in human hair or nails. The focus of this pilot study is to develop an extraction procedure, to separate the target chemicals from hair, and optimised analytical approaches for chemical identification and quantification. For this, hair samples are required for method development. There is potential for this developed method to incentivise funding for additional sampling and analysis of a larger study group. A broader biomonitoring survey may provide valuable insight into chemical exposure sources and persistence both temporally and regionally. Monitoring exposure of chemicals with recognised human health implications may also provide new insight into the incidence of illness and disease.

Impact of research: 
The likely outcome from this pilot study is the acquirement of future medical research funding that extends the biomonitoring study to a wider sample set. This could include more samples collected as part of the ALSPAC project. Regional and population scale human biomonitoring studies using hair samples have already been undertaken in Poland, China, Greece, Canada, India and Luxembourg. Hair sampling of cohort studies have identified decreases in anthropogenically sourced contaminants over time, in line with changes in regulations that ban the use of certain chemicals in commercial products or materials. Legacy contaminants may additionally persist in the environment and the body past regulatory changes, especially in a matrix such as hair that acts as a relatively long term sink to other tissues. Occupational exposure has also become apparent for workers in electric waste facilities being exposed to certain organochlorine contaminants used in the waste products. Detection of contaminants in hair also allows for targeted chemical screening of other tissues and blood to give a better representation of the current chemical burden carried by the body. So, although the outcomes from this pilot study are primarily methodological, the future research that this proposal may incentivise could have profound impacts on the way we monitor chemical exposure, whilst adding a valuable data set to the ALSPAC project.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 12 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 13 March, 2024
Chemical biomonitoring (analytical chemistry), Chemical exposure and bioaccumulation, Mass spectrometry, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution