Acetaminophen, pesticide, and diethylhexyl phthalate metabolites, anandamide, and fatty acids in deciduous molars: Potential biomarkers of perinatal exposure

David E. Camann, Stephen T. Schultz, Alice Y. Yau, Lynne P. Heilbrun, Michelle M. Zuniga, Raymond F. Palmer, Claudia S. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The developing fetus is particularly vulnerable to adverse effects from pharmaceutical and exogenous chemical exposure. Deciduous teeth primarily form over specific periods from the second trimester in utero through the months after birth. We hypothesized that organic chemicals or their metabolites circulating in the bloodstream may sorb into forming dental tissues and remain stored in the tooth thereafter. Our aims were to devise analytical and preparation methods for potentially toxic or beneficial organic chemicals or metabolites in deciduous teeth and to estimate their detection frequencies. The analgesic acetaminophen was stored at greater concentration in a child's second molar than a first molar, consistent with intake, suggesting that acetaminophen concentration in molars may be a biomarker of acetaminophen exposure during molar formation. Chemicals detected by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry in molars of 21 typically developing children include the endocannabinoid anandamide (86% of children), acetaminophen (43%), and specific metabolites mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP, of plasticizer di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, 29%), 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy, of organophosphate (OP) insecticide chlorpyrifos, 10%), and 2-isopropyl-6-methyl-4-pyrimidinol (IMPy, of OP insecticide diazinon, 10%). None of these chemicals has previously been detected in human teeth. Molars from the two oldest subjects contained the largest concentrations of MEHP, TCPy, and IMPy. Potentially protective fatty acids detected by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry after derivatization include docosahexaenoic (19%), arachidonic (100%), and linoleic (100%). Validation studies are necessary to verify that each detected chemical in molars provides a biomarker of perinatal exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-196
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy)
  • acetaminophen
  • anandamide
  • deciduous teeth
  • mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP)
  • perinatal exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology


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