Analysis of Endocrine Disrupting Nonylphenols in Foods by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

Sang Mi Lee, Daeun Cheong, Meehye Kim, Young Suk Kim

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Nonylphenols (NPs) are classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are known to cause disorders in the endocrine systems of organisms. Due to their high lipophilicity and low degradability, these harmful substances are known to accumulate and persist in the environment, and even enter into the food chain. Analytical methods of liquid–liquid extraction using solid-phase extraction for sample clean-up combined with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry were established to determine the presence of NPs in foods. This study aimed to develop and validate these methods using four food matrices representing high-fat and low-fat solid food, as well as high-fat and low-fat liquid food, groups. The single linear isomer 4-n-NP was used to validate the quantification of NPs, which exist in complex isomer mixtures. Our results showed good linearity, with correlation coefficients exceeding 0.998 for all four matrices. The limits of detection and quantification were 0.37–1.79 and 1.11–5.41 μg/kg, respectively. Recovery rates were 86.8–108.6% and 92.6–101.9% for intraday and interday assays, respectively, and the relative standard deviations (RSDs) were below 12% for both assays. The method was applied to analyze 1185 domestic food samples consumed by Koreans, with NPs detected at concentration ranges of 2.57–269.07 μg/kg. Results for each food type over wide concentration ranges indicated that these compounds are highly dependent on the area of cultivation, and are affected by the levels of those contaminants in different environments. The contents of NPs in foods from animal sources were generally higher than those from plant sources, in particular being higher in the intestines than in lean tissue. The present findings could form the basis for determining the level of dietary exposure to NPs and how each food source contributes to it in South Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Article number269
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant (20162MFDS116-2) from Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in 2020-2021 and BK21 FOUR (Fostering Outstanding Universities for Research, No.4299990914600) funded by the Korea government (MSIT), and Inha University Research Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • endocrine disrupting chemical
  • food
  • gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • nonylphenols


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