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Use of non-targeted and suspect screening analysis to detect sources of human exposure to environmental contaminants



Katherine Manz, Anna Feerick, Joseph Braun, Yong-Lai Feng, Amber Hall, Jeremy Koelmel, Carlos A. Manzano, Seth Newton, Kurt Pennell, Benjamin Place, Krystal Godri Pollitt, Carsten Prasse, Joshua Young


Non-targeted analysis (NTA) and suspect screening analysis (SSA) are powerful techniques that rely on high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) and computational tools to detect and identify unknown or suspected compounds in environmental media and human biospecimen. As such, we conducted a review to examine the use of different NTA/SSA methods in exposure media and human samples, the results of these studies, and the chemical space covered by these studies. Potential source routes to human exposure of environmental contaminants discussed in this review include water, air, soil/sediment, and commercial products. The use of NTA for exposure discovery in human samples is also reviewed. The chemical space that has been captured using NTA varies by media analyzed and analytical platform. In each media the chemicals that were frequently detected using NTA were: per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) and pharmaceuticals in water, pesticides and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil and sediment, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in air, flame retardants in dust, plasticizers in consumer products, and plasticizers, pesticides, and halogenated compounds in human samples. Some studies reviewed herein used both LC-HRMS and GC-HRMS to increase the detectable (16%); however, the majority (51%) only used LC-HRMS and less used GC-HRMS (32%). Finally, we identify knowledge and technology gaps to fully address potential contaminant exposure using NTA. Considering chemical space is essential to identifying the priority gaps in our understanding of exposure sources and prior exposures.
Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology


non-targeted analysis, mass spectrometry, exposomics, environmental


Manz, K. , Feerick, A. , Braun, J. , Feng, Y. , Hall, A. , Koelmel, J. , Manzano, C. , Newton, S. , Pennell, K. , Place, B. , Godri Pollitt, K. , Prasse, C. and Young, J. (2023), Use of non-targeted and suspect screening analysis to detect sources of human exposure to environmental contaminants, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, [online],, (Accessed April 21, 2024)
Created June 28, 2023