Cumulative exposure to organic pollutants of French children assessed by hair analysis

Alba Iglesias-González*, Emily M. Hardy, Brice M.R. Appenzeller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Children represent one of the most vulnerable parts of the population regarding the effects of pollutants exposure on health. In this study, hair samples were collected between October 2013 and August 2015 from 142 French children originating from different geographical areas (urban and rural) and analysed with a GC/MS-MS method, allowing for the detection of 55 biomarkers for pesticides and metabolites both persistent and non-persistent from different families, including: organochlorines, organophosphates, pyrethroids, azoles, dinitroanilines, oxadiazines, phenylpyrazoles and carboxamidas; 4 polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and 5 polybromodiphenylethers (PBDEs). The number of compounds detected in each sample ranged from 9 up to 37 (21 on average), which clearly highlighted the cumulative exposure of the children. The results also showed a wide range of concentration of the pollutants in hair (often more than 100 times higher in the most exposed child compared to the less exposed), suggesting significant disparities in the exposure level, even in children living in the same area. In addition to the detection of currently used chemicals, the presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in children also suggests that the French population is still exposed to POPs nowadays. PCP, DEP, PNP, 3Me4NP, trans-Cl2CA, 3PBA, fipronil and fipronil sulfone, presented statistically significant higher concentration in the hair of boys compared to girls. PCP, PNP and 3Me4NP presented statistically significant higher concentration in younger children. Finally, this study also suggests that local environmental contamination would not be the main source of exposure, and that individual specificities (habits, diet…) would be the main contributors to the exposure to the pollutants analysed here. The present study strongly supports the relevance of hair for the biomonitoring of exposure and provides the first values of organic pollutant concentration in the hair of French children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105332
JournalEnvironment international
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Children
  • Exposure
  • Hair analysis
  • Organic pollutants


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