A pilot study of metabolites of organophosphorus flame retardants in paired maternal urine and amniotic fluid samples: potential exposure risks of tributyl phosphate to pregnant women
Organophosphorus flame retardants (OPs) are of wide concern due to their presence in human urine and their considerable endocrine disruption and neuro-development toxicity. It has been confirmed that electronic waste (e-waste) dismantling activities have contributed to human exposure to OPs. However, assessments of OP exposure and the health risks for pregnant women and fetuses living in areas associated with e-waste dismantling have been impeded by a lack of data. In this study, six OP metabolites (mOPs) were measured in paired maternal urine and amniotic fluid samples collected from an e-waste dismantling area in Guangdong Province, China. All mOPs were detectable in maternal urine, whereas two were found in amniotic fluid. Dibutyl phosphate (DBP) was the predominant mOP in both maternal urine (geometric mean (GM): 2.9 ng ml−1) and amniotic fluid (1.3 ng ml−1); and diphenyl phosphate (DPHP) was the secondary one found (0.94 ng ml−1 in maternal urine, 0.12 ng ml−1 in amniotic fluid). The GM urinary concentrations of DBP and DPHP were two and seven times higher than those in amniotic fluid, respectively. The estimated daily intakes (EDIs) of triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) and tributyl phosphate (TnBP) by pregnant women were calculated from their daily urine excretion rate as fractions of OP metabolized to the corresponding metabolite (FUE). Our results showed high exposure levels to TPHP (median: 273 or 613 ng per kg bw per day) and TnBP (404 ng per kg bw per day) for pregnant women living in the e-waste associated area. Most importantly, 13% of mothers had EDITnBP levels that exceeded the reference dose (RfD: 2400 ng per kg bw per day), suggesting potential health risks from TnBP exposure for pregnant women living in areas associated with e-waste dismantling. This study, as a pilot study, presents the first measurements of mOPs in human amniotic fluid.