Millions of children worldwide do not reach their developmental potential due to poverty, and other disparities, including exposure to toxic chemicals.
Numerous toxic chemicals have adverse and long-lasting impacts on human health, and few would argue that early childhood, including school entry, represents a particularly important window of susceptibility to environmental insults. Understanding the complex relationships among environmental factors that prevent healthy neurodevelopment is an important public health goal. Until recently, such efforts were undertaken by measuring single or small group of chemicals at a time. New tools are becoming available to approximate human exposure to thousands of chemicals at a time. Leveraging the infrastructure of an ongoing research study in Montevideo, Uruguay, we will test the feasibility of measuring the chemical exposome, the totality of exposures, in children at school entry. Ten first-graders will wear a passive sampler wristband continually for a week, provide a single serum, and repeat urine samples. The passive sampler will be analyzed for the presence of 1500+ toxic chemicals. A suite of biomarkers of chemical exposure, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated, organophosphate and halogenated flame retardants will be measured in children’s urine and serum. This study will allow us to characterize the range and level of chemical exposure among the school children, and compare data provided by the passive sampler with urinary and serum biomarkers.
The research team includes Katarzyna Kordas (PI), associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health; James Olson, professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health; Diana Aga, professor in the Department of Chemistry; Elena Queirolo, research scientist at the Catholic University of Uruguay; Jeffrey Miecznikowski, associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics; Zia Ahmed, research associate professor with RENEW Institute.