Analysis of human serum and urine for tentative identification of potentially carcinogenic pesticide-associated N-nitroso compounds using high-resolution mass spectrometry

Journal: Environmental Research

Authors: Crystal L. Sweeney, Nathan K. Smith, Ellen Sweeney, Alejandro M. Cohen, and Jong Sung Kim

Abstract: Human serum and urine samples were analyzed for a suite of nitrosatable pesticides and potentially carcinogenic pesticide-associated N–nitroso (PANN) compounds. Formation of PANN compounds may occur in vivo after consumption of food or water containing trace amounts of nitrosatable pesticide residues and nitrate. Using a modified version of the Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe (QuEChERS) method, nine nitrosatable pesticides and byproducts were extracted from serum and urine from 64 individuals from two different sample populations in Atlantic Canada: (i) Prince Edward Island, a region where nitrate and trace amounts of nitrosatable pesticides have been detected in groundwater; and (ii) Halifax, Nova Scotia, a non-agricultural urban area. Samples were then analyzed using ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC) coupled with high-resolution accurate mass (HRAM) single-stage orbitrap mass spectrometry (MS), which allows for semi-targeted analysis and tentative identification of a virtually limitless number of exposure biomarkers. Two nitrosatable target analytes, ethylenethiourea (ETU) and 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy) were found in serum, while atrazine (ATR) and ETU were detected in urine. Five and six PANN compounds were tentatively identified in serum and urine, respectively. The two PANN compounds that were most frequently tentatively identified in serum were N-nitroso dimethoate (N-DIM) and N-nitroso omethoate (N-OME) with a detection frequency of 78% and 95%, respectively. This is the first biomonitoring study of its kind to investigate PANN compounds in human serum and urine.