Glyphosate is the highest volume used herbicide globally, used in the agricultural and horticultural industry, as well as in amateur gardening. This widespread and high quantity use worldwide has resulted in this chemical becoming ubiquitous in the environment. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s classified glyphosate as a ‘2A probably carcinogenic to humans’, which intensified international controversy over this chemical. The Human Biomonitoring for Europe (HBM4EU) initiative has also classed glyphosate as a priority substance for future analysis.
Occupational exposure studies have been previously conducted in Ireland among amenity horticulturists, which detected low levels of glyphosate in urine samples of the workers, as well as identifying potential sources of workers and para-occupational exposures. Previous environmental studies have also found detectable glyphosate levels of 0.80 – 1.35 μg L−1 in 20% of the urine samples collected among non-occupationally exposed individuals.
To fully evaluate glyphosate exposures, the IMAGE project has initiated – Ireland’s bioMonitoring Assessment of Glyphosate Exposures: An environmental assessment of glyphosate exposures among the Irish population using human biomonitoring. This follow-on human biomonitoring study will collect and analyse urine samples from families in Ireland. Samples will be collected from both farm and non-farm families’, which will include both parents and child (between 6 – 17 years old) and analysed for glyphosate and its main metabolite, Aminomethylphosphonic acid. Questionnaires, (aligned with the harmonised HBM4EU protocols) will collect detailed contextual information to support the human biomonitoring data including information on diet, occupation, lifestyle, health and place of residence.
Project methodology and sampling protocols will be presented at the conference.