Development, validation and application of analytical methods for PBDE determination – DeValApp

Croatian Science Foundation

Project head: Darija Klinčić

Duration: 1 Oct 2018 – 30 Sep 2023

Funding: 1,424,500.00 HRK

The purpose of the proposed project is to develop and validate analytical methods for determining specific polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners in complex samples of house dust and human milk. PBDEs are widespread in the environment, they accumulate in the food chain and enter human organism where they can exert a number of negative impacts. House dust is recognized as an important source of exposure to PBDEs because of their intensive use as flame retardants in objects widely used in households (furniture, textiles, electrical and electronic devices). On the other hand, human milk is a reliable bioindicator of people’s exposure to these compounds. The development of analytical methods will involve the examination and comparison of various types of extraction techniques, whereby along with the solid phase extraction and ultrasonic extraction, particular emphasis will be put on the application of an unused technique, microwave extraction. Techniques and conditions for the cleanup of the extract from the interfering compounds and matrix components before the final instrument analysis will be investigated. The sensitivity and selectivity of gas-chromatographic determination of PBDEs by electron capture detectors, mass spectrometer and coupled tandem mass spectrometry will be determined. Validated methods will be confirmed by analysis of certified reference samples. During the project, house dust will be sampled in the homes of milk donors. The optimized and validated analytical methods will be used for PBDE analysis in collected samples. Results on PBDE levels and distribution will be the first of a kind in Croatia and will be used to assess the importance of PBDE intake in the body by inhaling house dust and exposure of general population to PBDEs. From all of the above mentioned, it will be concluded whether there is a potential risk to human health with a special emphasis on sensitive population groups of nursing mothers, infants and young children.

Research team

Darija Klinčić, PhD
Senior Research Associate
Principal Investigator

Marija Dvoršćak, PhD
Scientific Associate

Karla Jagić, PhD
Senior Research Assistant (PostDoc)

Other associates: Andreja Jurič, PhD, Senior Research Assistant (PostDoc)

Short Symposium entitled “Indoor contaminants” held to conclude the project UIP-2017-05-6713 “Development, validation and application of analytical methods for PBDE determination (DeValApp)”

On September 8th, 2023, a Short Symposium entitled “Indoor contaminants” was held at the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health in Zagreb. The Symposium’s main goal was to share and discuss findings from the project “Development, validation and application of analytical methods for PBDE determination (DeValApp)“ (HrZZ-UIP-2017-05-6713). The project started in 2018 as part of the program “Installation Research Projects” financed by the Croatian Science Foundation, and with whose support and support of the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Medicine, the symposium was organized.

The scientific programme of this Short Symposium was divided into two sessions where the outcomes of the five-year research project were presented. These findings included concepts developed during project implementation that covered novel research areas and opened up opportunities for collaboration with other research groups. Also, participants had the opportunity for a fruitful discussion which opened up new possibilities for further investigations into various environmental and human samples. The presented results show the success of this project, but its greatest value is the formed research group and the scientific foundation that has been created, which enables further research to contribute to general knowledge about pollutants in our environment and their impact on human health.

A total of 50 participants attended the Symposium, and the DeValApp team hosted eminent scientists Dr Jelena Živančev and Dr Nataša Đurišić-Mladenović from the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Technology, Novi Sad, Serbia, who delivered inspiring lectures presenting Horizon Europe Twinning project (TwiNSol-CECs) as well as their experience in areas of environmental protection and monitoring different classes of contaminants.

The Short Symposium “Indoor contaminants” was an enriching scientific experience for us. We express our gratitude to all of the presenters and participants for sharing their research, thereby improving the excellence of the Short Symposium. We also express our gratitude to the Croatian Science Foundation and the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health for their support that was crucial to the overall success of our Short Symposium.

Implementation plan


  1. Kljaković-Gašpić, M. Dvoršćak, T. Orct, A. Sekovanić, D. Klinčić, K. Jagić, D. Šebešćen, E. Klasiček, D. Zanellar, Metal(loid)s and persistent organic pollutants in yellow European eel from the Raša River, Croatia, Marine Pollution Bulletin (2023) doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.114527. (LINK)
  2. Jakovljević, M. Dvoršćak, K. Jagić, D. Klinčić, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Indoor Dust in Croatia: Levels, Sources, and Human Health Risks, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2022) doi:10.3390/ijerph191911848. (LINK)
  3. Dvoršćak, I. Jakovljević, K. Jagić, B. Tariba Lovaković, D. Klinčić, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in dust from different indoor environments in Zagreb, Croatia: Levels and human exposure assessment, Indoor Air (2022) doi:10.1111/ina.13145. (LINK)
  4. Tariba Lovaković, K. Jagić, M. Dvoršćak, D. Klinčić, Trace elements in indoor dust—Children’s health risk considering overall daily exposure, Indoor Air (2022) doi:10.1111/ina.13104. (LINK)
  5. Dvoršćak, K. Jagić, L. Besednik, I. Šimić, D. Klinčić, First application of microwave-assisted extraction in the analysis of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in human milk, Microchemical Journal (2022) doi:10.1016/j.microc.2022.107447. (LINK)
  6. Zandona Antonio, K. Jagić Karla, M. Dvoršćak Marija, J. Madunić Josip, D. Klinčić Darija, M. Katalinić Maja PBDEs found in house dust impact human lung epithelial cell homeostasis, Toxics (2022) doi:10.3390/toxics10020097. (LINK)
  7. Jagić, M. Dvoršćak, D. Klinčić, Analysis of brominated flame retardants in the aquatic environment: a review, Arhiv za higijenu rada i toksikologiju (2021) doi:10.2478/aiht-2021-72-3576. (LINK)
  8. Klinčić, B. Tariba Lovaković, K. Jagić, M. Dvoršćak, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and the multi- element profile of house dust in Croatia: Indoor sources, influencing factors of their accumulation and health risk assessment for humans, Science of the Total Environment (2021) doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149430. (LINK)
  9. Jagić, M. Dvoršćak, A. Jurič, T. Safner, D. Klinčić, Optimization and validation of two-step method for determination of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in Croatian house dust samples, Analytical Methods (2021) doi:10.1039/D1AY00695A. (LINK)
  10. Jagić, M. Dvoršćak, A. Jurič, T. Safner, D. Klinčić, Preliminary results on polybrominated diphenyl ether contamination status in Croatian households and insights into children’s exposure, Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology (2021) doi:10.1016/j.etap.2021.103603. (LINK)
  11. Klinčić, M. Dvoršćak, K. Jagić, G. Mendaš, S. Herceg Romanić, Levels and distribution of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in humans and environmental compartments: a comprehensive review of the last five years of research, Environmental Science and Pollution Research (2020) doi:10.1007/s11356-020-07598-7. (LINK)


  • Sanja Stipičević, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), ToxLearn4EU Summer School, IMROH, Zagreb, 12.07.2023.
  • Sanja Stipičević, Human Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants from the Environment, Career Week, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek, 16.05.2023.
  • Karla Jagić, Flame Retardants: Two Sides of the Medal, Incubator of Ideas @IMI, 27.04.2023.
  • Marija Dvoršćak, Unwelcome guests in house dust – polybrominated diphenyl ethers, Elementary school Djurdjevac, 21.05.2021.

  • Darija Klinčić, Presentation of scientific-research work within the DeValApp project, IMI, 07.05.2021.
  • Marija Dvoršćak, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers – how we are exposed to them, IMI, 02.12.2020.
  • Marija Dvoršćak, Side by side with polybrominated diphenyl ethers, Professional Meeting of Biology Teachers AZOO, 08.07.2020., webinar
  • Marija Dvoršćak, Persistent organic pollutants – from application to side effects, County professional meeting for biology teachers in specialized schools of Zagreb, 02.03.2020., Craft School for Personal Services, Zagreb

  • Marija Dvoršćak, Persistent organic pollutants in environment and humans (organochlorine and organobromine compounds), presentation, part of classes held at IMROH 2019 for students of the Medical School Vrapče, subject Hygiene and Preventive Medicine (21.10.-26.11.2019.)
  • Darija Klinčić, Brominated flame retardants and their impact on human health, Experiences and news of the health profession for the purpose of improving and modernizing teaching (IMI, ASOO), 22.11.2018., IMROH, Zagreb
  • Marija Dvoršćak, Coexistence with the brominated compounds, Scientific Discussions of Young Scientists, 21.11.2018., IMROH, Zagreb

Participation at scientific meetings

  • Karla Jagić:  43rd International Symposium on Halogented Persistent Organic Pollutants (Dioxin 2023), Maastricht, Netherlands, poster presentation, 10.-14.09.2023.

  • Marija Dvoršćak; Darija Klinčić, Karla Jagić: 13th International Congress of the Serbian Society of Toxicology and 1st TOXSEE Regional Conference – Present and Future of toxicology: challenges and opportunities, Belgrade, Serbia, three poster presentations, 10. -13.05.2023.
  • Karla Jagić: 22nd European Meeting on Environmental Chemistry (EMEC22), Ljubljana, Slovenia, poster presentation, 05.-08.12.2022.
  • Darija Klinčić, Marija Dvoršćak: 11th International Congress of the Turkish Society of Toxicology, Kemer, Turkey, two poster presentations, 02.-05.11.2022.

  • Karla Jagić: 10th International Symposium on Flame Retardants (BFR2022), Athens, Greece, poster presentation, 04.-07.09.2022.

  • Ivana Jakovljević: XIV. Meeting of Young Chemical Engineers, Zagreb, Croatia, poster presentation, 24.-25.02.2022.
  • Karla Jagić:  21st European Meeting on Environmental Chemistry (EMEC21), Novi Sad, Serbia, oral presentation, 30.11.-03.12.2021.

  • Marija Dvoršćak: 41st International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (DIOXIN2021), virtual congress, poster presentation, 08.-11.11.2021.
  • Karla Jagić: 27th Croatian Meeting of Chemists and Chemical Engineers (HSKIKI 2021), Veli Lošinj, Croatia, poster presentation, 05.-08.10.2021.

  • Marija Dvoršćak: 6th Croatian Congress of Toxicology (CROTOX 2021), Rabac, Croatia, poster presentation, 03.-06.10.2021.

  • Karla Jagić: 6th Croatian Congress of Toxicology (CROTOX 2021), Rabac, Croatia, oral presentation, 03.-06.10.2021.

  • Karla Jagić: 56th Congress of the European Societies of Toxicology (EURUTOX 2021), virtual congress, poster presentation, 27.09.-01.10.2
  • Karla Jagić: Air Protection 2021, Medulin, Croatia, poster presentation, 15.-17.09.2021.

  • Karla Jagić: 5th Faculty of Science PhD student Symposium, Zagreb, Hrvatska, flash and poster presentation, 24.-25.04.2021

  • Karla Jagić: 18th Ružička Days, Vukovar, Croatia, 16.-18.09.2020.

  • Karla Jagić: 4th Symposium of PhD students of the Faculty of Science 2020, Zagreb, Croatia, 28.02.2020.

  • Karla Jagić: XIII Meeting of Young Chemical Engineers, Zagreb, Croatia, 20.-21.02.2020.

Science Popularization

  • Darija Klinčić, Marija Dvoršćak, Karla Jagić: workshop „The fun side of chemistry“ as part of IMImobil, 01.06.2023., Elementary school Pavlek Miškina, Zagreb

  • Darija Klinčić, Marija Dvoršćak, Karla Jagić: workshop “Chemistry is magic, but real” and “Colorful chemistry” as part of IMImobil, 26.04.2021., Elementary school Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, Prigorje Brdovečko

  • Darija Klinčić, Development, validation and application of analytical methods for PBDE determination,  WorkIn’ Science – WISe, 07.11.2018., Faculty of Science, Zagreb,

List of publications:|6605|text|project-id

Additional activities during the project

  • Karla Jagić: course „The basics of working in WordPress“, online, 21.11.-23.11.2022.
  • Karla Jagić, Marija Dvoršćak: „Risk assessment of regulated products (EFSA)“, online, 28.09.-30.09.2022.
  • Karla Jagić: online course „Health risk assessment on endocrine disruptors“, 26.-30.09.2022.
  • Karla Jagić: seminar „Environmental chemistry towards global change (Chem2Change)“, online, 15.-16.03.2022.
  • Marija Dvoršćak, Karla Jagić: seminar „Introduction to LC-MS“, Labtim, Zagreb, 07.02.2022.
  • Karla Jagić: scientific school „A comprehensive approach to the research of anthropogenic pressures on the environment“, online, 07.-10.12.2021.
  • Karla Jagić: summer academy – lecture series „9th BfR-Summer Academy on Risk Assessment and Risk Communication in Food Safety 2021“, online, 23.-27.08.2021.
  • Darija Klinčić, Karla Jagić: summer school “ 17th edition of RECETOX Summer School”, RECETOX, online, 21.-25.06.2021.
  • Karla Jagić: summer school “15th Summer School on Toxic Compounds in the Environment 2019”, 17.-21.06.2019., RECETOX, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

  • Karla Jagić: summer school “XIX. International Chromatography School”, 10.-11.06.2019., Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Zagreb, Croatia

Doctoral dissertation

  • Karla Jagić: Trace analysis of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in household dust and human milk for human health risk assessment, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, 26.10.2022.

Graduation thesis

  • Defence of Diploma thesis: Lucija Besednik, Microwave assisted extraction of polybrominated diphenyl ethers from human milk, Faculty of Science, Zagreb (18.09.2020.)

  • the preparation of Diploma thesis of Lucija Besednik, graduate student of Analytical Chemistry and Biochemstry at Faculty of Science

Student practices

  • Leader: Marija Dvoršćak – student practices held as part of undergraduate and graduate studies


  • Karla Jagić: Award of the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Medicine for at least 3 original scientific papers on which the employee is the first author, and which were published in the previous calendar year (2021) in journals indexed in the Web of Science database
  • Darija Klinčić: Award of the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Medicine for at least 3 original scientific papers on which the employee is the first author, and which were published in the previous calendar year (2020) in journals indexed in the Web of Science database
  • Karla Jagić: Young Scientist Award, 6th Croatian Congress of Toxicology (CROTOX 2021), Rabac, Croatia (03.-06.10.2021.)
  • Karla Jagić: Best Poster Award at „4th Symposium of PhD students of the Faculty of Science 2020.“, Zagreb, Hrvatska (28.2.2020.)

Collaboration – projects

  • 2022. – 2024. – “Meet the toxicity – live safely (MeeTox)” – Erasmus+ project of Serbian Society of Toxicology, Croatian Society of Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy (Serbia) and Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health (Croatia)

  • 2022. – 2023. – “Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the dust from public spaces – do they pose a risk to human health?”, Foundation of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU), Karla Jagić
  • 2020. – 2021. – “Development of analytical methods for the purpose of obtaining the first data on the exposure of people in Croatia to brominated compounds”, Foundation of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU), Marija Dvoršćak

PROJECT DAY (08.09.2023.)

  • Brochure


  • Visiting Cerovac Caves and Memorial Center „Nikola Tesla“

  • at CROTOX 2021, Rabac

  • tour de Rijeka and hiking on Učka