Glyphosate in Irish adults – A pilot study in 2017

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Abstract

Objectives

Glyphosate is the highest volume herbicide used globally and has recently been classified as a 2 A ’probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). There is limited data to evaluate the public health impacts from glyphosate exposure. The objective of this study is to conduct an exploratory glyphosate exposure assessment study among Irish adults, who were non-occupational users of glyphosate.

Study design

A convenient sampling method was used, collecting one first morning void spot urine sample from each participant.

Methods

A biomonitoring survey involving the collection and analysis of 20 ml spot urine samples from 50 Irish adults was conducted in June 2017. Participants completed a short questionnaire to collect information on demographics, dietary habits and lifestyle. Glyphosate was extracted using solid phase extraction (SPE) and analysed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MC/MS).

Results

Of the 50 urine samples analysed, 10 (20%) contained detectable levels of glyphosate (0.80–1.35 μg L−1). Exposure concentrations are higher than those reported in comparable studies of European and American adults.

Conclusions

Glyphosate was detectable in 20% of the samples collected from Irish adults. The low proportion of detectable glyphosate levels could be due to lower localised use of pesticides, having a small sample size or the higher analytical detection limit used in this study (0.5 μg L−1), which could underestimate the true exposure and warrants further investigation. Given the widespread use of glyphosate, further information on population exposure is required to advance our understanding of the relationship between chronic low dose exposure to glyphosate and human health risk.

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