Environmental Research ( IF 5.715 ) Pub Date : 2020-10-13 , DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110295 Gerda Schwedler; Aline Murawski; Maria I.H. Schmied-Tobies; Enrico Rucic; Max Scherer; Nikola Pluym; Gerhard Scherer; Robert Bethke; Marike Kolossa-Gehring
Benzene and acrylamide are carcinogenic substances contained inter alia in tobacco smoke. The mercapturic acid metabolites of benzene, N-acetyl-S-phenyl-L-cysteine (SPMA), and of acrylamide, N-acetyl-S-(3-amino-3-oxopropyl)-cysteine (AAMA) and N-acetyl-S-(3-amino-2-hydroxy-3-oxopropyl)-cysteine (GAMA), were analysed in 2260 first-morning void urine samples from children and adolescents aged 3–17 years, participating in the population-representative German Environmental Survey on Children and Adolescents, GerES V 2014–2017. SPMA was detected in 98% of the participants with a geometric mean (GM) of 0.097 μg/L urine. Smokers had about 10-fold higher levels of the benzene metabolite SPMA than non-smokers. The sample comprises of 48 self-reported smokers, mainly in the oldest age group (14-17-year-olds). Second-hand smoke exposure, living near busy or very busy roads, and using domestic fuels for heating were additionally associated with higher benzene metabolite levels. SPMA levels in GerES V were lower compared to levels found in other countries, which in part however may reflect different proportions of smokers. The acrylamide metabolites AAMA and GAMA were detected in 100% of the participants with a GM of 72.6 μg/L urine for AAMA and 15.0 μg/L urine for GAMA. Smoking children and adolescents had about 2.5-fold higher AAMA levels than non-smoking ones. The frequency of consumption of french-fried potatoes and potato crisps consumption was also positively associated with urinary AAMA and GAMA levels. Compared to the urinary AAMA and GAMA levels in Germany and other countries, levels in GerES V tended to be higher than in the few studies reported. The urinary levels of the benzene biomarker SPMA, and the acrylamide biomarkers AAMA and GAMA build the basis to derive reference values for the exposure of children and adolescents in Germany. The results reveal options for exposure reduction mainly in personal choices regarding smoking and diet, but also requiring policy to maintain efforts in non-smoking regulations and improving ambient air quality. Providing these results also to the European HBM Initiative HBM4EU will contribute to gain knowledge on the exposure of the European population, the health impact of carcinogens and thus providing support for substantiated exposure assessment.