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Original article
Urinary biomarkers of exposure to glycol ethers and chlorinated solvents during pregnancy: determinants of exposure and comparison with indirect methods of exposure assessment
  1. Ronan Garlantézec1,2,3,
  2. Luc Multigner1,
  3. Laurence Labat4,
  4. Nathalie Bonvallot5,
  5. Juha Pulkkinen6,
  6. Brigitte Dananché7,8,
  7. Christine Monfort1,
  8. Florence Rouget1,9,
  9. Sylvaine Cordier1
  1. 1Inserm, U625, Univ Rennes I, IFR-140, GERHM, Rennes, France
  2. 2Service de Santé Publique, Hygiène Hospitalière, Evaluation, Hôpital Morvan, CHU Brest, Brest, France
  3. 3Département de Santé Publique, Faculté de Médecine et des Sciences de la Santé, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Brest, France
  4. 4Laboratoire de Toxicologie et Génopathies, CHRU Lille, Lille, France
  5. 5Département Santé Environnement Travail, EHESP, Rennes, France
  6. 6Laboratory of Chemistry, Department of Biosciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
  7. 7Unité Mixte de Recherche Épidémiologique et de Surveillance en Transport, Travail et Environnement (Umrestte: InVS, UCB Lyon 1, Inrets), Lyon, France
  8. 8Département Santé Travail, Institut National de Veille Sanitaire, Saint Maurice, France
  9. 9Réseau Périnatal “Bien naître en Ille-et-Vilaine”, Rennes, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ronan Garlantézec, Inserm U625, GERHM, Univ Rennes I, Campus de Beaulieu, Rennes F-35042, France; ronan.garlantezec{at}


Objectives To describe urine levels of metabolites of glycol ethers and chlorinated solvents in a sample of pregnant women from the general population, to study their occupational and non-occupational determinants and to compare them with the results of indirect assessment methods of solvent exposure.

Methods A sample of 451 pregnant women was randomly selected from a general population cohort. At inclusion, the women in this sample completed a self-administered questionnaire about their social and medical characteristics, occupation and exposure to different products at work and in non-occupational activities. Occupational exposure to solvents was assessed from the woman's self-report and from a job-exposure matrix. Eight alkoxycarboxylic acids and trichloroacetic acid and trichloroethanol were measured with chromatography in urine samples collected at inclusion. Associations between metabolite levels and job titles, exposure to products used at work, and solvent exposure were studied.

Results The different glycol ether metabolites were detected in 5.3%–96.4% of the urine samples, trichloroacetic acid in 6.4% and trichloroethanol in 5.5%. Nurses had butoxyacetic acid and phenoxyacetic acid in their urine most often, whereas methoxyethoxyacetic acid was the most frequent among nursing aides. Among cleaners, ethoxyacetic acid and ethoxyethoxyacetic acid were the most frequent. The occupation of hairdresser was associated with urinary excretion of ethoxyacetic acid, ethoxyethoxyacetic acid, butoxyacetic acid and phenoxyacetic acid. Among the women classified as exposed to solvents, the agents identified most often were ethoxyacetic acid, ethoxy-ethoxyacetic acid, butoxyacetic acid, phenoxyacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid and trichloroethanol. Ethoxyethoxyacetic acid was the only metabolite associated with non-occupational exposure.

Conclusions Metabolites of glycol ethers and chlorinated solvents were present at low levels in the urine of pregnant women. Most metabolites were associated with occupational exposure.

  • Maternal exposure
  • biological monitoring
  • glycol ethers
  • trichloroethylene
  • perchloroethylene
  • biomonitoring
  • public health
  • solvents

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  • Funding This research was supported by grants from the InVS, the Ministry of Labour and the Regional Health Department (DRASS de Bretagne).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Inserm Ethics Committee Paris.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.