Interlaboratory Comparison Investigations (ICIs) for human biomonitoring of chromium as part of the quality assurance programme under HBM4EU

Stefanie Nübler, Moritz Schäfer, Karin Haji-Abbas-Zarrabi, Stefan Marković, Katarina Marković, Marta Esteban López, Argelia Castaño, Hans Mol, Holger M. Koch, Jean Philippe Antignac, Jana Hajslova, Cathrine Thomsen, Katrin Vorkamp, Thomas Göen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The pan-European human biomonitoring initiative HBM4EU targets the harmonization of human biomonitoring (HBM) procedures and data for both environmental and occupational exposure, including chromium. The determination of chromium in urine (U-Cr), plasma (P-Cr) and whole blood (WB-Cr) is a common HBM application in employees occupationally exposed to chromium (VI) compounds. Methods: European laboratories which have registered as candidate laboratories for chromium analysis within HBM4EU were invited to participate in a quality assurance/qualitycontrol (QA/QC) programme comprising interlaboratory comparison investigations (ICI) for the parameters U-Cr, P-Cr and WB-Cr. Participating laboratories received two samples of different concentrations in each of four rounds and were asked to analyse the samples using their standard analytical procedure. The data were evaluated by the Z-score approach and were reported to the participants after each round. Results: The majority of the 29 participating laboratories obtained satisfactory results, although low limits of quantification were required to quantify chromium concentrations in some of the ICI materials. The robust relative standard deviation of the participants’ results (study RSDR) obtained from all ICI runs ranged from 6 to 16 % for U-Cr, 7–18 % for P-Cr and 4–47 % for WB-Cr. The application of both inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (EAAS) appeared appropriate for the determination of chromium in urine, plasma and whole blood with regard to occupational exposure levels. Conclusion: This QA/QC programme succeeded in establishing a network of laboratories with high analytical comparability and accuracy for the analysis of chromium across Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126912
JournalJournal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Chromium
  • Electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (EAAS)
  • HBM4EU
  • Human biomonitoring (HBM)
  • Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)
  • Interlaboratory comparison investigation (ICI)
  • Occupational exposure
  • Plasma
  • Red blood cells
  • Urine
  • Whole blood


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