Assessing Exposure to Atrazine and Its Metabolites Using Biomonitoring
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Assessing Exposure to Atrazine and Its Metabolites Using Biomonitoring

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  • Alternative Title:
    Environ Health Perspect
  • Description:

    Atrazine (ATZ) is the second most abundantly applied pesticide in the United States. When we assessed exposure to ATZ by measuring its urinary mercapturic acid metabolite, general population data indicated that < 5% of the population was exposed to ATZ-related chemicals (limit of detection < 0.8 ng/mL).


    The aim of our study was to determine if we were underestimating ATZ exposure by measuring its urinary mercapturic acid metabolite and if the urinary metabole profile changed with the exposure scenario.


    We conducted a small-scale study involving 24 persons classified as high- (n = 8), low(n = 5), and environmental- (n = 11) exposed to ATZ. Using online solid phase extraction high performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry, we measured nine ATZ-related metabolites in urine that included dealkylated, hydroxylated, and mercapturic acid metabolites.


    We found that the urinary metabolite profiles varied greatly among exposure scenarios and among persons within each exposure scenario. Although diaminochlorotriazine (DACT) appeared to be the predominant urinary metabolite detected in each exposure category, the variation in proportion of total ATZ metabolites among persons was consistently large, suggesting that one metabolite alone could not be measured as a surrogate for ATZ exposure.


    We have likely been underestimating population-based exposures by measuring only one urinary ATZ metabolite. Multiple urinary metabolites must be measured to accurately classify exposure to ATZ and its environmental degradates. Regardless, DACT and desethylatrazine appear to be the most important metabolites to measure to evaluate exposures to ATZ-related chemicals.

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