About the Multidisciplinary Seminar Program

Created in 1995, the Escola Tecnica Superior d'Enginyeria Quimica (ETSEQ) at Universitat Rovira i Virgili aims at becoming an international reference in chemical engineering education and research. The ETSEQ is located in an area that is socially and economically very dynamic, and that is home to one of the most important centers of chemical industry in southern Europe.

The Multidisciplinary Seminar Program is both the seminar series for faculty and researchers in the ETSEQ, and a mandatory class for its graduate students. The Program aims at inviting leading international researchers working on areas that are of interest to faculty and researchers in the School.

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Next seminar (April 30, 2015)

In vitro metabolism of phosphate flame retardants and implications for biomonitoring (Adrian Covaci)

Location: Sala de Graus, ETSEQ
Start time: 12 p.m.


While the demand for flame retardants, such as organophosphate esters (PFRs), has increased, there are still major uncertainties regarding the human exposure to these compounds. Biomonitoring is considered the best approach to monitor internal exposure, yet little is known regarding the metabolic processes PFRs undergo in the human body and the identity of biomarkers of exposure. In the present study, we aim at presenting recommendations on the selection of the target biomarkers to be used when assessing the human exposure to PFRs through biomonitoring. These recommendations are largely based on our recently published in vivo and in vitro data completed with in vivo literature data. More precisely, we evaluate the usefulness of oxidative metabolites specific for one parent PFR as compared to non-specific or infrequently detected diesters formed by hydrolytic processes. Exposure biomonitoring studies for rapidly cleared chemicals require identification of stable (and specific) major metabolites for parent chemicals of interest.
We have reported the in vitro metabolism of several PFRs, including tris(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCIPP), tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCIPP), tris(2-butoxyethyl) phosphate (TBOEP), ethylhexyl diphenyl phosphate (EHDPHP) and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), by human liver enzymes. Several metabolites, such as diesters and oxidative metabolites, have been suggested as potential useful for biomonitoring in urine. For the selection of biomarkers for PFR exposure, we have based our conclusions on findings from biomonitoring (in vivo) studies in urine and on the identification of PFR metabolites in in vitro liver preparations.
Together with the corresponding diesters (BDCIPP, BDCIPP, BBOEP, and DPHP), specific metabolites formed by oxidative metabolism, such as bis(1-chloro-2-propyl) 1-hydroxy-2-propyl phosphate (BCIPHIPP), (bis(2-butoxyethyl) 3´-hydroxy-2-butoxyethyl phosphate (HO-TBOEP), bis(2-butoxyethyl) 2-hydroxyethyl phosphate, and (hydroxyphenyl diphenyl phosphate (HO-TPHP), are suggested to be used in biomonitoring studies. The in vivo formation of some PFR metabolites has not been confirmed, and as a result, their suitability for human biomonitoring is still unknown.

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