Chimpanzee exposure to pollution revealed by human biomonitoring approaches

Sabrina Krief*, Alba Iglesias-González, Brice M.R. Appenzeller, Lyna Rachid, Marielle Beltrame, Edward Asalu, John Paul Okimat, Nicole Kane-Maguire, Petra Spirhanzlova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Wildlife is increasingly exposed to environmental pollution, but data illustrating to what extent this exposure can impact health and survival of endangered species is missing. In humans, hair matrix analysis is a reliable tool for assessing cumulative exposure to organic pollutants such as pesticides but has rarely been used in other primates for this purpose. LC/MS-MS and GC/MS-MS multi-residue methods were used to screen the presence of 152 organic pollutants and their metabolites belonging to 21 different chemical families in hair samples from our closest relative, the chimpanzee. Samples were collected from 20 wild chimpanzees in Sebitoli, Kibale National Park, Uganda and 9 captive chimpanzees in the Réserve Africaine de Sigean, France. In total, 90 chemicals were detected, 60 in wild chimpanzees and 79 in captive chimpanzees. The median concentrations of detected chemicals in captive individuals were significantly higher than those in wild chimpanzees. Hair from the captive individuals at RAS was sampled a second time after 6 months in an environment of reduced exposure to these pollutants (diet of organic food, decreased use of plastic food and water containers). The number of chemicals detected in captive chimpanzees reduced from 79 to 63, and their concentrations were also significantly reduced. In the present study we report for the first time the use of hair analysis to detect organic pollutants in primate hair. We conclude that both wild and captive chimpanzees are exposed to a large range of different chemicals through their diet. Our study provides surprising and alarming evidence that besides the direct threats of poaching, deforestation and diseases, wild chimpanzees might be endangered by indirect consequences of anthropic activities. As chimpanzees are our closest relatives, our results should be considered as an alert for human health as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113341
Pages (from-to)113341
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022


  • GC/MS-MS
  • Hair analysis
  • LC/MS-MS
  • Organic pollutants
  • Pan troglodytes
  • Pesticides


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