Human biomonitoring: development of analysis method for determination of food contaminants in hair

The exposure of humans to food contaminants can be assessed in various ways. Most commonly, this is done through the analysis of food and food consumption data. Biomonitoring is an alternative approach where the exposure to (food) contaminants is assessed by determination of biomarkers (either the contaminant itself or metabolites) in human materials.

Urine and blood are most frequently used as sample material. Other options are saliva, exhaled air and hair. Hair has the advantage over urine that in many cases the substance as such is present which makes identification and quantification more straightforward. It also enables assessment of cumulative exposure over a longer time frame. While hair analysis is quite common in forensic toxicology, it is still in its infancy for exposure assessment of contaminants. The very low detection limits that are required is one of the reasons for this.

The aim of the internship project is to develop and validate a method for the highly sensitive detection of contaminants in hair. Target analytes are certain pesticides, mycotoxins and/or plant toxins.   

Contact: Hans Mol:
Cluster: Natural Toxins & Pesticides (NTP)
Date: 2016

Tasks, techniques, and activities

  • Brief literature review
  • Selection of target analytes for the project
  • Selection/testing of most suitable instrumental analysis technique (GC or LC with the most appropriate MS detection technique)
  • Set up of the instrumental method
  • Selection/optimization of extraction/cleanup method
  • Validation of the analysis method
  • Analysis of human hair samples for presence of target analytes
  • Report and presentation of the results obtained (EN or NL)

What we are asking

  • Enthusiastic student with a background in analytical chemistry (BSc, MSc)
  • Basic knowledge of chromatography and mass spectrometry
  • Availability for a period of at least five months

What we offer
Expert guidance during the internship in a state-of-the art food/feed safety laboratory with a range of high-end mass spectrometers for both LC and GC.