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Interlaboratory Comparison Investigations (ICIs) and External Quality Assurance Schemes (EQUASs) for human biomonitoring of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in serum as part of the quality assurance programme under HBM4EU

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  • Stefanie Nübler, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
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  • Marta Esteban López, Instituto de Salud Carlos III
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  • Argelia Castaño, Instituto de Salud Carlos III
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  • Hans G.J. Mol, Wageningen University & Research
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  • Karin Haji-Abbas-Zarrabi, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
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  • Moritz Schäfer, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
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  • Johannes Müller, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
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  • Jana Hajslova, University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague
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  • Darina Dvorakova, University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague
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  • Jean Philippe Antignac, Nantes Atlantic National College of Veterinary Medicine, Food Science and Engineering
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  • Holger M. Koch, Ruhr University Bochum
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  • Line Småstuen Haug, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
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  • Katrin Vorkamp
  • Thomas Göen, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are of very high concern due to their persistence and accumulative behaviour as well as their manifold adverse health effects. Human biomonitoring (HBM) based on the determination of PFASs in serum samples is an adequate and established strategy for exposure and risk assessment of the population. The suspected health risks associated with exposure levels in the general population call for reliable HBM data verified by Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) measures. PFASs were among the chemicals selected as priority substances in HBM4EU, a pan-European project to harmonize and advance HBM within 30 European countries. For this purpose, the analytical comparability and accuracy of PFASs-analysing laboratories was assessed in a QA/QC programme comprising Interlaboratory Comparison Investigations (ICIs) and External Quality Assurance Schemes (EQUASs). This paper presents the evaluation process and discusses the results of four ICI/EQUAS rounds for the determination of eight perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids and four perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFBS, PFHxS, PFHpS, PFOS) in serum. All 21 participating laboratories achieved satisfactory results for at least six of these biomarkers, although low limits of quantification (of about 0.1 μg/L) were required to quantify serum PFAS levels at general population exposure levels. The mean relative standard deviation of the participants' results (study RSDR) significantly improved from 22 % to 13 % over all PFAS biomarkers in the course of the four rounds. This QA/QC programme succeeded in establishing a network of laboratories with high analytical comparability and accuracy for the analysis of PFASs across 12 European countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157481
JournalScience of the total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Analytical methods, HBM4EU, Internal exposure, Perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids, Perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acid, Z-scores

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