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      Current data on the background burden to the persistent organochlorine pollutants HCB, p,p'-DDE as well as PCB 138, PCB 153 and PCB 180 in plasma of the general population in Germany.

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          Despite their long-term ban, persistent organochlorine compounds like hexachlorobenzene (HCB), p,p'-dichlorodiphenylethylene (DDE) as well as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are still of environmental concern. For the evaluation of potential occupational or environmental exposures to these substances, it is essential to know the current background burden of the general population. As representative and up-to-date information is missing for Germany, we have analysed a large dataset generated in studies on potential exposure to lower chlorinated PCBs to fill this gap for the levels of HCB, DDE as well as PCB 138, PCB 153 and PCB 180. We have investigated n=2750 plasma samples of persons of the general population living in North Rhine-Westfalia and Hesse aged 6-65 years and sampled between September 2010 and March 2014. For evaluation of the age-dependent accumulation in the general population we have generated seven age groups in the collective. Our laboratory used a validated and quality controlled procedure using GC/MS for quantification of the organochlorine compounds in plasma (LOQ: 0.01μg/L). The median (95th percentile) levels for ∑ PCB 138+PCB 153+PCB 180 were 0.14 (0.73); 0.30 (0.82); 0.38 (0.88); 0.50 (1.14); 0.92; 1.58 (3.54) and 2.41 (4.82)μg/L plasma in the age groups 6-10 years (n=102), 11-17 years (n=499), 18-25 years (n=157), 26-35 years (n=710), 36-45 years (n=400), 46-55 years (n=525) and 56-65 years (n=357), respectively. Similarly, the median (95th percentile) levels of p,p'-DDE were 0.18 (1.24); 0.18 (0.74); 0.24 (0.85); 0.30 (1.20); 0.45 (1.74); 0.64 (3.25) and 0.94 (4.7)μg/L plasma. Finally, the median (95th percentile) of HCB in plasma in these age groups was 0.05 (0.10); 0.06 (0.11); 0.08 (0.15); 0.08 (0.15); 0.11 (0.22); 0.14 (0.42) and 0.20 (0.68)μg/L plasma. Our results prove an overall substantial reduction in the body burden to organochlorine compounds in Germany compared to earlier studies. However, 15% and 3.6% of the examined collective exceeded the HBM-I- and HBM-II-values for PCBs established by the German Human Biomonitoring Commission. Due to a large sample size and a collection period from 2010 to 2014, our data might be suitable for the evaluation of additional exposures to these POPs and may serve as reference values.

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          Author and article information

          Int J Hyg Environ Health
          International journal of hygiene and environmental health
          Elsevier BV
          Jun 2015
          : 218
          : 4
          [1 ] Institute for Occupational and Social Medicine, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany. Electronic address:
          [2 ] Institute for Occupational and Social Medicine, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany.


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