Chemosphere – PCDD/F and PCB in human serum of differently exposed population groups of an Italian city

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Chemosphere – PCDD/F and PCB in human serum of differently exposed population groups of an Italian city

Luigi Turrio-Baldassarri, Vittorio Abate, Chiara Laura Battistelli, Sergio Carasi, Marialuisa Casella, Nicola Iacovella, Annamaria Indelicato, Cinzia La Rocca, Carmelo Scarcella, Silvia Alivernini.

A chemical plant located in Brescia, an industrial city in North-Western Italy, produced polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) during a 30–50 year period, causing widespread pollution of the surrounding agricultural area. This area contains several small farms, which principally produce veal meat for private consumption of the farmers’ families.

The pollution went undiscovered for many years, during which period contaminated food was regularly consumed. This paper reports the polychlorodibenzodioxin (PCDD), polychlorodibenzofuran (PCDF) and PCB levels of a serum sample pooled from the consumers of contaminated food, compared to six population groups of the city of Brescia. Four of these groups were selected in order to represent, respectively, the local general population and the residents of three zones of the polluted area, while the last two groups represented, respectively, the present and the former workers of the plant. One human milk sample from one of the consumers of contaminated food was also analyzed.

Results show that the consumers of the contaminated food and the former workers of the plant display considerably higher levels than all other groups. The levels of general population and of all other groups were generally similar both to each other and to the range of literature values for unexposed populations.

The respective contribution of PCDDs, PCDFs, mono-ortho and non-ortho PCBs (dioxin-like PCBs) to (Toxicity Equivalents) TEQ of the population groups of this study were also compared to literature data: the two groups with a high contamination level, together with the human milk sample, displayed a higher incidence of mono-ortho PCBs and a lower contribution of PCDD, possibly correlated with the source of contamination.

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