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Strobilurin fungicides in house dust: is wallboard a source?

Abstract

Strobilurin fungicides are used primarily in fruits and vegetables, but recently, a patent was issued for one strobilurin fungicide, azoxystrobin, in mold-resistant wallboard. This raises concerns about the potential presence of these chemicals in house dust and potential exposure indoors, particularly in young children. Furthermore, recent toxicological studies have suggested that strobilurins may cause neurotoxicity. Currently, it is not clear whether or not azoxystrobin applications in wallboard lead to exposures in the indoor environments. The purpose of this study was to determine if azoxystrobin, and related strobilurins, could be detected in house dust. We also sought to characterize the concentrations of azoxystrobin in new wallboard samples. To support this study, we collected and analyzed 16 new dry wall samples intentionally marketed for use in bathrooms to inhibit mold. We then analyzed 188 house dust samples collected from North Carolina homes in 2014–2016 for azoxystrobin and related strobilurins, including pyraclostrobin, trifloxystrobin, and fluoxastrobin using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Detection frequencies for azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, trifloxystrobin, and fluoxastrobin ranged from 34–87%, with azoxystrobin being detected most frequently and at the highest concentrations (geometric mean = 3.5 ng/g; maximum = 10,590 ng/g). Azoxystrobin was also detected in mold-resistant wallboard samples, primarily in the paper covering where it was found at concentrations up to 88.5 µg/g. Cumulatively, these results suggest that fungicides present in wallboard may be migrating to the indoor environment, leading to exposure in the residences that would constitute a separate exposure pathway independent of dietary exposures.

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Acknowledgements

Funding for this research was provided by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Grant 83564201) and NIEHS (R01 ES016099). Additional support for ALP and JR was provided by NIEHS (T32-ES021432 and P42ES010356, respectively). We also thank our participants for opening their homes to our study team and helping us gain a better understanding of children’s exposures to pesticides.

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Correspondence to Heather M. Stapleton.

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Cooper, E.M., Rushing, R., Hoffman, K. et al. Strobilurin fungicides in house dust: is wallboard a source?. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 30, 247–252 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-019-0180-z

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Keywords

  • Azoxystrobin
  • Indoor exposure
  • House dust
  • Strobilurin fungicides
  • Wallboard

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