Does the composition of urine change when collected from disposable diapers and other absorbent materials?

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The free and conjugated urinary species of non-persistent environmental chemicals or their breakdown products are valid human exposure biomarkers. For convenience, disposable diapers and other absorbent materials are widely used to collect urine specimens from infants and young toddlers. However, the extent to which the different urinary species of the target analytes and other components are recovered after the urine is extracted from these absorbent materials is unknown. In this proof-of-concept study, we investigated the extraction recovery from disposable diapers, cotton pads, and gauzes of the free versus glucuronidated urinary species of three example chemicals: bisphenol A, triclosan, and 4-methylumbelliferone. Although the glucuronides were almost fully recovered, the free species were not. Our results suggest that, in addition to other sampling considerations, the binding affinity and extraction recovery of the target biomarkers to the material used to collect the urine should be considered. Alternative collection approaches that do not require such an extraction (e.g., urine bags routinely used in hospitals) may be worth exploring. Despite its shortcomings, having urinary concentrations for biomonitoring considerably strengthens the exposure assessment, particularly for infants and young toddlers, and the benefits of including biomonitoring data outweigh their potential limitations.

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