Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 17, pp 16446–16454 | Cite as

Monitoring OH-PCBs in PCB transport worker’s urine as a non-invasive exposure assessment tool

  • Yuki Haga
  • Motoharu Suzuki
  • Chisato Matsumura
  • Toshihiro Okuno
  • Masahiro Tsurukawa
  • Kazuo Fujimori
  • Narayanan Kannan
  • Roland Weber
  • Takeshi Nakano
PCBs Risk Evaluation and Environmental Protection


In this study, we analyzed hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (OH-PCBs) in urine of both PCB transport workers and PCB researchers. A method to monitor OH-PCB in urine was developed. Urine was solid-phase extracted with 0.1% ammonia/ methanol (v/v) and glucuronic acid/sulfate conjugates and then decomposed using β-glucuronidase/arylsulfatase. After alkaline digestion/derivatization, the concentration of OH-PCBs was determined by HRGC/HRMS-SIM. In the first sampling campaign, the worker’s OH-PCB levels increased several fold after the PCB waste transportation work, indicating exposure to PCBs. The concentration of OH-PCBs in PCB transport workers’ urine (0.55~11 μg/g creatinine (Cre)) was higher than in PCB researchers’ urine (< 0.20 μg/g Cre). However, also a slight increase of OH-PCBs was observed in the researchers doing the air sampling at PCB storage area. In the second sampling, after recommended PCB exposure reduction measures had been enacted, the worker’s PCB levels did not increase during handling of PCB equipment. This suggests that applied safety measures improved the situation. Hydroxylated trichlorobiphenyls (OH-TrCBs) were identified as a major homolog of OH-PCBs in urine. Also, hydroxylated tetrachlorobiphenyls (OH-TeCBs) to hydroxylated hexachlorobiphenyls (OH-HxCBs) were detected. For the sum of ten selected major indicators, a strong correlation to total OH-PCBs were found and these can possibly be used as non-invasive biomarkers of PCB exposure in workers managing PCB capacitors and transformer oils. We suggest that monitoring of OH-PCBs in PCB management projects could be considered a non-invasive way to detect exposure. It could also be used as a tool to assess and improve PCB management. This is highly relevant considering the fact that in the next 10 years, approx. 14 million tons of PCB waste need to be managed. Also, the selected populations could be screened to assess whether exposure at work, school, or home has taken place.


Exposure HRGC/HRMS OH-PCBs PCB transportation workers PCBs Risk assessment Urine analysis 



We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Tim Newfields and Dr. Terry Grim for their valuable comments on this manuscript. We thank Dr. Takanori Sakiyama at Osaka City Institute of Public Health and Environmental Sciences for instructing us on the analytical procedure of OH-PCBs and Dr. Tameo Okumura, a former researcher at the Environmental Pollution Control Center of the Osaka Prefectural Government, for synthesizing OH-PCB standards.

This study was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research [B] No. 21310027 by JSPS.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1927_MOESM1_ESM.docx (594 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 593 kb)
11356_2018_1927_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (536 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 535 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuki Haga
    • 1
  • Motoharu Suzuki
    • 1
  • Chisato Matsumura
    • 1
  • Toshihiro Okuno
    • 1
  • Masahiro Tsurukawa
    • 1
  • Kazuo Fujimori
    • 1
  • Narayanan Kannan
    • 2
  • Roland Weber
    • 3
  • Takeshi Nakano
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Hyogo Prefectural Institute of Environmental SciencesKobeJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Applied SciencesAIMST UniversityBedongMalaysia
  3. 3.POPs Environmental ConsultingSchwäbisch GmündGermany
  4. 4.Center for Advanced Science and InnovationOsaka UniversityOsakaJapan
  5. 5.Graduate School of Maritime ScienceKobe UniversityKobeJapan

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