The use of dried blood spots for characterizing children's exposure to organic environmental chemicals

Environ Res. 2021 Apr:195:110796. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.110796. Epub 2021 Jan 25.


Biomonitoring is a commonly used tool for exposure assessment of organic environmental chemicals with urine and blood samples being the most commonly used matrices. However, for children's studies, blood samples are often difficult to obtain. Dried blood spots (DBS) represent a potential matrix for blood collection in children that may be used for biomonitoring. DBS are typically collected at birth to screen for several congenital disorders and diseases; many of the states that are required to collect DBS archive these spots for years. If the archived DBS can be accessed by environmental health researchers, they potentially could be analyzed to retrospectively assess exposure in these children. Furthermore, DBS can be collected prospectively in the field from children ranging in age from newborn to school-aged with little concern from parents and minimal risk to the child. Here, we review studies that have evaluated the measurement of organic environmental toxicants in both archived and prospectively collected DBS, and where available, the validation procedures that have been performed to ensure these measurements are comparable to traditional biomonitoring measurements. Among studies thus far, the amount of validation has varied considerably with no studies systematically evaluating all parameters from field collection, shipping and storage contamination and stability to laboratory analysis feasibility. These validation studies are requisite to ensure reliability of the measurement and comparability to more traditional matrices. Thus, we offer some recommendations for validation studies and other considerations before DBS should be adopted as a routine matrix for biomonitoring.

Keywords: Biomonitoring; Children; Dried blood spots; Nonpersistent organic pollutants; Organic toxicants; Persistent organic pollutants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Monitoring*
  • Child
  • Dried Blood Spot Testing
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Organic Chemicals*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Organic Chemicals