International journal of hygiene and environmental health

Urinary levoglucosan levels in Austrian communities differing in agrarian quota.

PMID 22647540


Levoglucosan is a sugar anhydride produced by combustion of carbohydrates. In ambient monitoring it serves as an indicator for wood smoke. Its use in human biomonitoring, however, is not yet widespread. This study investigated whether levoglucosan in urine is a suitable biomarker for regional differences in wood smoke exposure in the winter season. Within the first Austrian biomonitoring survey, pooled urine samples from mothers as well as children of five communities of different size (two-stage random stratified sampling) were analysed by HPLC. As an indicator of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that are also prevalent in wood smoke, 1-hydroxypyrene was determined. In each town levoglucosan was found in higher levels in the pooled children's samples than in the pooled mothers' samples. It correlated well with the agrarian quota. 1-Hydroxypyrene concentrations were higher in areas with higher population density. Correlation of urinary levoglucosan concentrations with the agrarian quota may be explained by higher wood smoke exposure in communities with higher agrarian quota. To our knowledge this study is the first investigation on this issue in Europe. It indicates that human biomonitoring of levoglucosan may be suitable to detect differences in regional exposure to wood smoke.

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1,6-Anhydro-β-D-glucose, 99%