Dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (DL-PCBs) are hazardous toxic, ubiquitous and persistent chemical compounds, which can enter the food chain and accumulate up to higher trophic levels. Their determination requires sophisticated methods, expensive facilities and instruments, well-trained personnel and expensive chemical reagents. Ideally, real-time monitoring using rapid detection methods should be applied to detect possible contamination along the food chain in order to prevent human exposure. Sensor technology may be promising in this respect. The main detection methods applied (i.e., high resolution gas-chromatography combined with high resolution mass-spectrometry (HRGC/HRMS) and the chemical activated luciferase gene expression method (CALUX bioassay)), each have their limitations. Biosensors for detecting dioxins and related compounds, although still under development, show potential to overcome these limitations. Immunosensors and biomimetic-based biosensors potentially offer increased selectivity and sensitivity for dioxin and DL-PCB detection, while whole cell-based biosensors present interpretable biological results. The main shortcoming of current biosensors, however, is their detection level: this may be insufficient as limits for dioxins and DL-PCBs for food and feedstuffs are in pg per gram level. In addition, these contaminants are normally present in fat, a difficult matrix for biosensor detection. Therefore, simple and efficient extraction and clean-up procedures are required which may enable biosensors to detect dioxins and DL-PCBs contamination along the food chain.
The article is published online in the journal Sensors and is free to access.