Although the exposure assessment of chemicals of emerging concern (CECs) has taken a decisive step forward through advances in (bio)informatics, statistics, and the development of highly sophisticated analytical instruments, the lack of standardisation and harmonisation of analytical workflows and method performance assessment for suspect and non-target screening hampers the interpretation of results, their comparability and thus, its transmission to policymakers. To date, unlike in other research fields such as forensics or food analysis, there is a lack of guidelines for non-target analysis in human risk assessment and quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) protocols. Moreover, the majority of efforts have been focused on the development and implementation of QA/QC actions for data acquisition, data analysis and mining, largely neglecting the sample preparation necessary for determination of CECs by suspect and non-target screening methods. In this article, we propose a set of QA/QC measures that covers sampling, sample preparation and data acquisition, as an aspect of work conducted within the European Biomonitoring for Europe initiative (HBM4EU). These measures include the use of standardised terminology and the implementation of dedicated QA/QC actions in each stage of the analytical process. Moreover, a framework for the analytical performance assessment has been developed for the first time for the identification of CECs in human samples by suspect and non-target approaches. Adoption of the actions proposed here for the identification of CECs in human matrices can significantly improve the comparability of reported results and contribute to the (challenging) Exposome research field.
- Emerging compounds
- Framework for analytical performance
- Human matrices
- Quality control-quality assurance measures
- Suspect and non-target screening