Exposure of an urban population to pesticides assessed by wastewater-based epidemiology in a Caribbean island

Damien A. Devault, Sara Karolak, Yves Lévi, Nikolaos I. Rousis, Ettore Zuccato, Sara Castiglioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wastewater-based epidemiology is an innovative approach to estimate the consumption of chemicals and their exposure patterns in a population, on the basis of measurements of biomarkers in wastewater. This method can provide objective real-time information on xenobiotics directly or indirectly ingested by a population. This approach was used to examine the exposure of the Martinique population to the three classes of pesticides: triazines, organophosphates and pyrethroids. Martinique island (French West Indies) is a closed market and has been closely monitored since the early 2000's when contamination with chlordecone, an organochlorine insecticide widely applied between 1972 and 1993 in banana plantations, became a critical political issue. The aim of this study was to identify and quantify the patterns of human exposure and compare the results to those from other countries. Wastewater was collected as 24-h composite samples and analysed for selected urinary pesticide metabolites by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Organophosphate and pyrethroid metabolites were found in all the samples up to 330 ng/L, while triazines were found only at trace levels. Mass loads indicated higher exposure to pyrethroids than in some cities in Europe, but lower exposure to triazines and organophosphates. The estimated human intake for pyrethroids was close to the Acceptable Daily Intake, but importation of these pesticides to Martinique was low. This study illustrates the high human exposure with indoor pesticide use in comparison to its use in agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Dec 10 2018


  • Human urinary metabolites
  • Martinique
  • Organophosphates
  • Pyrethroids
  • s-Triazines
  • Urban pesticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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