An ANSES study shows that it is possible to measure exposure to certain chemical substances, such as bisphenol A, by analyzing hair.
- Some chemicals we are exposed to are eliminated within a few hours by our body. Which complicates scientists’ analyses.
- A study on rats reveals that certain chemicals stay in their hair for a long time. Researchers believe that hair could be a good indicator of exposure to pollutants.
- However, adjustments would have to be made to extrapolate the data from the rat study to humans.
Certain chemical substances that we encounter through our environment or our food, such as bisphenol A, are eliminated from our body within a few hours. This phenomenon complicates analyzes and studies on the effects of these products. “We were confronted with this problem during an expertise on bisphenol A”explains Claire Beausoleil, toxicologist within the Risk Assessment Directorate in a communicated. However, a study carried out by the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) demonstrated that hair analysis could make it possible to assess exposure to these pollutants.
Hair shows exposure to several chemicals
To find a relevant analysis method, ANSES, Luxembourg Institute of Health and the National Institute of Industrial Environment and Hazards exposed rats to 17 pollutants including pesticides, phthalates, bisphenols and a plasticizer called DINCH. Hair and urine samples were collected to measure the concentrations of metabolites resulting from the transformation of these substances in the body. The results obtained demonstrated that there is a correlation between the exposure dose by ingestion and the concentration of metabolites found in rat hair for 14 of the 17 substances studied.
“This concentration is also proportional to that found in the urine, which shows that the substances are fixed in the hair after being transported by the blood”specifies ANSES in its press release published on November 16, 2023.
Hair analysis: uborn more representative method than long-term blood analysis
For researchers, it would be interesting to study hair during analyzes related to pollutants. “The measure (of concentration) could even be more representative than that in blood. In fact, the substance may have been eliminated from the blood at the time of collection, while hair retains traces of the pollutant for longer once it has attached to the keratin.explains ANSES.
However, it should be remembered that the study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technologywas carried out on rats. It would therefore be necessary to make adjustments to extrapolate its results to humans. Indeed, the incorporation of substances into hair depends on several parameters such as absorption and elimination time of molecules, which vary from one species to another.