Assessment of exposure to pesticides: residues in 24 h duplicate diets versus their metabolites in 24 h urine using suspect screening and target analysis

R. Nijssen*, A. Lommen, H. van den Top, R. van Dam, C. Meuleman-Bot, M. Tienstra, P. Zomer, S. Sunarto, F. van Tricht, M. Blokland, H. Mol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Human biomonitoring can add value to chemical risk assessment by reducing the assumptions regarding consumption rates, residue occurrence, and processing effects and by integrating exposures from different sources (diet, household use, environmental). However, the relationship between exposure and concentration in human matrices is unknown for most pesticides. Therefore, we conducted a pilot study to gain more insight into the qualitative and quantitative relationship between dietary intake of pesticides (external exposure) and urinary excretion (reflecting internal exposure). In this cross-sectional observational study, 35 healthy consumers aged 18–65 years from the region of Wageningen, Netherlands, collected an exact duplicate portion of their diets during 24 h. On the same day, they also collected all their urine. The duplicate diets were analyzed using target screening by GC- and LC-HRMS; each duplicate diet contained at least five, up to 21, pesticide residues. The 24 h urine samples were analyzed using LC-HRMS in a suspect screening workflow. Metabolites were tentatively detected in all 24 h urine samples, ranging from six metabolites corresponding to four pesticides up to 40 metabolites originating from 16 pesticides in a single urine sample. In total, 65 metabolites originating from 28 pesticides were tentatively detected. After prioritization and additional confirmation experiments, 28 metabolites originating from 10 pesticides were identified with confidence level 1 or 2b. Next, quantitative analysis was performed for a selection of pesticides in duplicate diets and their metabolites in 24 h urine to assess quantitative relationships. In the quantitative comparisons between duplicate diet and 24 h urine, it was found that some metabolites were already present in the duplicate diet, which may give an overestimation of exposure to the parent pesticide based on measurement of the metabolites in urine. Additionally, the quantitative comparisons suggest a background exposure through other exposure routes. We conclude that suspect screening of 24 h urine samples can disclose exposure to mixtures of pesticide on the same day in the general population. However, more research is needed to obtain quantitative relationships between dietary intake and exposure. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-650
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number3
Early online date22 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Biomonitoring
  • Exposure assessment
  • Food
  • Metabolites
  • Non-target measurement


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