Saf Health Work.  2011 Mar;2(1):57-64.

Determination of Phthalate Metabolites in Human Serum and Urine as Biomarkers for Phthalate Exposure Using Column-Switching LC-MS/MS

  • 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Yongin University, Yongin, Korea.
  • 2School of Human and Environmental Sciences, Eulji University, Sungnam, Korea.


Although phthalates like dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) are commonly used as plasticizers and their metabolites are especially suspected of reproductive toxicity, little is known about occupational exposure to those phthalates. The aim of this study was to assess the utility of measuring the metabolite concentrations of DBP and DEHP in serum and urine samples as an indicator of occupational exposure to those phthalates.
Phthalate metabolites were analyzed by using column-switching high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).
We detected phthalate metabolites in serum and urine matrices at approximately 10-fold lower than the limit of detection of those metabolites in the same matrix by LC-MS/MS without column switching, which was sufficient to evaluate concentrations of phthalate metabolites for industrial workers and the general population.
The accuracy and precision of the analytical method indicate that urinary metabolite determination can be a more acceptable biomarker for studying phthalate exposure and adverse health outcomes.


Phthalates; Dibutyl phthalate; di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate; Metabolites; Accuracy
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