Human exposure to persistent organic pollutants Illustrated by four case studies in Europe
Abstract: An extensive use of chemicals in countless consumer products has resulted in human exposure to several persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Sufficient knowledge about their chemical composition properties and environmental faith is required, to be able to proper risk assess and regulate the substances. Significant data gaps exist regarding knowledge of actual exposure to humans and toxicological effect data.The objective of this thesis was to add human exposure data of a few POPs from four case studies. The analytes discussed in this thesis are polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDDs/PCDFs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD).Three European populations were studied. Milk was analysed from a group of women, who were accidentally exposed to high levels of 2,3,7,8-TetraCDD (TCDD) in Seveso, 1976. Still today, twice as high TCDD levels were recorded in the milk, compared to background concentrations. Serum was analysed from mothers and their infants from The Netherlands. Cord serum contained equal amounts of POPs as in mother’s blood, indicating non-hindered placenta transfer. Serum analysed from Swedish men and women with a high fish intake had elevated PCB and PCB metabolite (OH-PCB) levels. Additionally, butter was collected worldwide and shown to be a suitable matrix for dairy product survey of POPs.The exposure levels in the four papers were compared to recently reported exposure levels in Europe. It is indicated in the thesis that the PCDDs/PCDFs and PCBs toxic equivalency (TEQ) levels are of concern, i.e. the ratio between threshold levels for adverse health effects and TEQ exposure levels is lower than requested margin of safety. Average levels of PBDE/HBCDD in the European population are estimated to be of no concern today, but for individuals with intakes at the 95th percentile are the current margins of safety small.
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