Measurement of p-nitrophenol in the urine of residents whose homes were contaminated with methyl parathion

Dana B. Barr, Wayman E. Turner, Emily DiPietro, P. Cheryl McClure, Samuel E. Baker, John R. Barr, Kimberly Gehle, Raymond E. Grissom, Roberto Bravo, W. Jack Driskell, Donald G. Patterson, Robert H. Hill, Larry L. Needham, James L. Pirkle, Eric J. Sampson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


During the last several years, illegal commercial application of methyl parathion (MP) in domestic settings in several U.S. Southeastern and Midwestern States has affected largely inner-city residents. As part of a multiagency response involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the Agency for Toxic Subtances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and state and local health departments, our laboratory developed a rapid, high-throughput, selective method for quantifying p-nitrophenol (PNP), a biomarker of MP exposure, using isotope dilution high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. We measured PNP in approximately 16,000 samples collected from residents of seven different states. Using this method, we were able to receive sample batches from each state; prepare, analyze, and quantify the samples for PNP; verify the results; and report the data to the health departments and ATSDR in about 48 hr. These data indicate that many residents had urinary PNP concentration well in excess of those of the general U.S. population. In fact, their urinary PNP concentrations were more consistent with those seen in occupational settings or in poisoning cases. Although these data, when coupled with other MP metabolite data, suggest that many residents with the highest concentrations of urinary PNP had significant exposure to MP, they do not unequivocally rule out exposure to PNP resulting from environmental degradation of MP. Even with their limitations, these data were used with the assumption that all PNP was derived from MP exposure, which enabled the U.S. EPA and ATSDR to develop a comprehensive, biologically driven response that was protective of human health, especially susceptible populations, and included clinical evaluations, outreach activities, community educations, integrated pest management, and decontamination of homes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1091
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue numberSUPPL. 6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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