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Development of a wastewater-based epidemiology method for assessment of human exposure to neonicotinoids

Grant number: 22/13264-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2023
Effective date (End): July 17, 2023
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Sanitary Engineering - Environmental Sanitation
Principal Investigator:Valdemar Luiz Tornisielo
Grantee:Joyce Cristale
Supervisor: Daniel Davidson Snow
Host Institution: Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:20/10918-9 - Identification of chemical markers of COVID-19 pandemic in wastewater: health surveillance and environmental impacts, BP.PD


The environmental pollution by organic contaminants of anthropogenic origin can cause negative impact on human health, and the development of tools for the assessment of human exposure to these substances are necessary. The neonicotinoids are pesticides globally used for the control of insects, and negative effects on human health and the environment have been reported. Humans are exposed to neonicotinoids by ingestion of fruit and vegetables from agricultural land where these substances were applied, and by consumption of contaminated water. The parent neonicotinoids and metabolites are excreted by humans as a consequence of the exposure to these substances, resulting in the presence of these substances in wastewater. Thus, the analysis of wastewater samples can provide valuable information regarding the populational exposure level to pesticides. The wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is an approach that have been used for the assessment of human exposure to chemical substances, which is based on the measurement of chemicals and their respective human metabolites in raw wastewater. This methodology was successfully used for the assessment of human exposure to triazines, pyrethroids and organophosphorus pesticides, but was not yet validated for the assessment of human exposure to neonicotinoids. The objective of this study is to develop a WBE methodology to evaluate the occurrence of neonicotinoids and their metabolites in wastewater, and apply this to estimate human exposure to these pesticides. First, a method for simultaneous determination of neonicotinoids and their corresponding human metabolites in wastewater will be developed. Then, different human metabolites of neonicotinoids will be evaluated about their feasibility as biomarkers in terms of specificity and stability in wastewaters. Finally, the developed method will be applied to raw wastewater samples collected in the Saunders County (Nebraska State), an area highly impacted by the use of neonicotinoids. As a result of this research plan, we expect to obtain a WBE method adequate for use as a tool for the assessment of population exposure to neonicotinoids. (AU)

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