Biomonitoring of fast-elimination endocrine disruptors – Results from a 6-month follow up on human volunteers with repeated urine and hair collection

François Fäys, Emilie M. Hardy, Paul Palazzi, Serge Haan, Claire Beausoleil, Brice M.R. Appenzeller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The assessment of human exposure to fast-elimination endocrine disruptors (ED) such as phthalates, bisphenols or pesticides is usually based on urinary biomarkers. The variability of biomarkers concentration, due to rapid elimination from the body combined with frequent exposure is however pointed out as a major limitation to exposure assessment. Other matrices such as hair, less sensitive to short-term variations in the exposure, have been proposed as possible alternatives. Nevertheless, no study compared the information obtained from hair and urine respectively in a follow-up allowing to assess biomarkers variability over time in these two matrices, and to compare the correlation between them. Methods: In the present study, hair and urine samples were collected from 16 volunteers over a 6 months follow-up. All in all, 92 hair samples and 805 urines samples were collected and analyzed for the presence of 16 phthalate metabolites, 4 bisphenols and 8 pesticides/metabolites. Results: All the biomarkers analyzed were detected in at least one of the two matrices. 21 biomarkers were more frequently detected in hair, 6 in urine, and 1 was equivalent. Biomarkers intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) ranged from 0.1 to 0.8 (ten above 0.4) in hair, and from 0.09 to 0.51 in urine (two above 0.4). The concentrations of biomarkers in hair and urine were significantly correlated for only one compound. Conclusion: This study highlights the complexity of assessing exposure to fast-elimination ED and suggests considering with caution the specificity of the matrix in data interpretation. The results document the respective advantages and limitations of urine and hair, and provide new insight in the understanding of the information provided by these biological matrices and their relevance for the assessment of human exposure to fast elimination contaminants. Capsule: 92 hair and 805 urine samples collected from 16 volunteers over 6 months, tested for phthalate metabolites, bisphenols and pesticides. 19 biomarkers (in hair) and 24 (in urine) were detected in >50% of the samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146330
Pages (from-to)146330
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021


  • Biomarkers of exposure
  • Biomonitoring
  • Endocrine disruptor
  • Hair
  • Urine


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