Exposure Biology

Our Organics Division conducts bio-monitoring experiments to study the relationship between exposures to organic chemical contaminants in the environment and human health outcomes. Our primary goal is to estimate body burden of chemicals by measuring concentrations of a wide variety of organic compounds and metabolites in diverse biological tissues such as urine, blood, placenta, milk, teeth, bone, hair, nails, and meconium. The overall goal of the laboratory is to expand our understanding of the associations between exposure to environmental organic pollutants and subsequent health outcomes in humans.The Organics Division maintains a state-of-the-art facility to:
i. Develop novel analytical methods for testing groundbreaking hypotheses (e.g. simultaneous quantification of multi-class chemical markers for environmental exposures and biochemical markers for health effects),
ii. Reconstruct exposures to mixtures of chemicals that occurred years earlier and subsequent changes in physiological pathways leading to disease development in later years, and
iii. Through collaboration, establish a national and international reputation for exploratory research studies and high throughput samples analysis

Analytical Methods:

Analytical methods for high-throughput analyses are developed based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) for organic chemicals with varying polarity and properties. New methods for untargeted analysis using QTOF-LC/MS and GC-APCI-QTOF/MS are developed under the Discovery panel. The analytical approach involves three key steps: sample preparation, extraction, and analysis for method optimization, followed by quality control/quality assurance step for method validation.

Our laboratory also provides assistance to students and researchers in areas of environmental health, exposure science, epidemiology, clinical science and related fields for study design, method development and analysis, results interpretation, and identification of suitable biomarkers of exposure. The overall research goal of the laboratory is to expand our understanding on the associations between exposure to environmental organic pollutants and subsequent health outcomes in humans.


Matrices: Urine, Blood (Serum/Plasma), Placenta, Milk, Teeth,  Bone, Hair,  Nails,  Meconium

Organics Analyte Panels:

  • Phthalates: 15 metabolites (primary and secondary)
  • Environmental tobacco smoke markers: Nicotine, cotinine, hydroxycotinine
  • Environmental phenols: Bisphenol-A, BPA structural analogs, BPA derivatives, parabens, benzophenones, triclosan.
  • Brominated flame retardants: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs 28, 47, 85, 99, 100, 153, 154, 183, 209)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): PCBs 28, 52, 101, 118, 138, 153, 180
  • Organochlorine Pesticides: (β-hexachlorocyclohexane, Υ-hexachlorocyclohexane, dieldrin, hexachlorobezene, heptachlor epoxide, mirex, o-p’-DDT, oxychlorane, p-p’-DDE, p-p’-DDT, trans-nonachlor)
  • Organophosphate pesticides and metabolites: Diazinon, parathion-ethyl, dimethylphosphate, diethylphosphate, dimethylthiophosphate, diethylthiophosphate, dimethyldithiophosphate, diethyldithiophosphate
  • Other Organics: Volatiles and semi-volatiles (e.g. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

Key Researchers:

Syam S. Andra, PhD
Christine Austin, PhD


Andra SS, Austin C, Patel D, Dolios G, Awawda M, Arora M.  Trends in the application of high-resolution mass spectrometry for human biomonitoring: An analytical primer to studying the environmental chemical space of the human exposome. Environ Int. 2017 Jan 3. pii: S0160-4120(16)30902-3. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.11.026. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PMID: 28062070 (read more)

Andra SS, Austin C, Yang J, Patel D, Arora M. Recent advances in simultaneous analysis of bisphenol A and its conjugates in human matrices: Exposure biomarker perspectives. Sci Total Environ. 2016 Dec 1;572:770-781. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.07.062. Review. PMID: 27586167 (read more)

Andra SS, Austin C, Arora M. The tooth exposome in children’s health research. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2016 Apr;28(2):221-7. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000327. Review. PMID: 26859286 (read more)

Andra SS, Charisiadis P, Arora M, van Vliet-Ostaptchouk JV, Makris KC. Biomonitoring of human exposures to chlorinated derivatives and structural analogs of bisphenol A. Environ Int. 2015 Dec;85:352-79. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.09.011. Review. PMID: 26521216 (read more)

Andra SS, Austin C, Arora M. Tooth matrix analysis for biomonitoring of organic chemical exposure: Current status, challenges, and opportunities. Environ Res. 2015 Oct;142:387-406. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.06.032. Review. PMID: 26219084 (read more)

Andra SS, Austin C, Wright RO, Arora M. Reconstructing pre-natal and early childhood exposure to multi-class organic chemicals using teeth: Towards a retrospective temporal exposome. Environ Int. 2015 Oct;83:137-45. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.05.010. PMID: 26134987 (read more)