Neonicotinoids and neonicotinoid-like compounds (NNIs) are frequently used insecticides worldwide and exposure scenarios can vary widely between countries and continents. We have developed a specific and robust analytical method based on liquid chromatography-electrospray tandem mass spectrometry coupled to online-SPE (online-SPE-LC-ESI-MS-MS) to analyze the seven most important NNIs from a global perspective together with nine of their key metabolites in human urine. The method also includes the neonicotinoid-like flupyradifurone (FLUP), an important future substitute for classical neonicotinoids, and two of its major human metabolites, 5-hydroxy- and N-desfluoroethyl-FLUP. Validation of the method was carried out using pooled urine samples from low-dose human metabolism studies and spiked urine samples with a wide range of creatinine concentrations. Depending on the analyte, the limits of quantitation were between 0.06 and 2.1 µg L-1, the inter-day and intra-day imprecisions ≤6%, and the mean relative recoveries between 89% and 112%. The method enabled us to successfully quantify NNIs and their metabolites at current environmental exposures in 34 individuals of the German general population and 43 pregnant women from Brazil with no known occupational exposures to NNIs.
Keywords: Biomarker; Human biomonitoring; Insecticides; Neonicotinoids; Online-SPE-LC-MS-MS; Standard synthesis; Urine.
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