Correction and comparability of phthalate metabolite measurements of Canadian biomonitoring studies (2007-2012)
Phthalate metabolites are often measured in biomonitoring studies to evaluate a population's exposure to ubiquitous phthalates. During the course of national biomonitoring studies in Canada, we identified an issue with the accuracy of several commercial phthalate metabolite standards that are commonly used in such studies. The validity of the results from these studies was then questioned. Altogether, three (3) large studies were affected, involving a total of 9302 samples and 105000 individual phthalate metabolite measurements. Data from our previous investigation suggested that the inaccuracies in the commercially-available phthalate metabolite standards were compound- and lot-specific. Therefore, an approach was developed to derive correction factors for each lot of phthalate metabolite standard and was applied to the previously-acquired measurements with the goal of obtaining accurate and comparable data. A statistical analysis was performed to support the approach. It is expected that the corrected phthalate metabolite data from all three Canadian biomonitoring studies are comparable to one another. However, caution is still advised when comparing data obtained from biomonitoring studies for which the calibration standards have not been investigated for their accuracy. Suggestions are made based on quality assurance aspects to improve the validity of phthalate metabolite measurements.