Distribution of blood concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in a representative sample of the population of Catalonia

Miquel Porta, Magda Gasull, Elisa Puigdomènech, Mercè Garí, Magda Bosch de Basea, Montserrat Guillén, Tomàs López, Esther Bigas, José Pumarega, Xavier Llebaria, Joan O. Grimalt, Ricard Tresserras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although virtually all populations worldwide are commonly exposed to numerous persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and human concentrations vary widely, only a few countries conduct nationwide surveillance programs of POP concentrations in representative samples of the general population. Objective: To evaluate the distribution of serum concentrations of nineteen POPs and their main predictors in a representative sample of the general population of Catalonia. Methods: Participants in the Catalan Health Interview Survey aged 18-74. years were interviewed face-to-face, gave blood, and underwent a physical exam. Graphs (including "POP Geoffrey Rose curves") were used to represent the full population distribution of each POP in the 919 participants. Through multivariate statistical models we analyzed the influence on POP concentrations of sex, age, body mass index (BMI), socioeconomic status and, in women, parity. Results: We detected dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p'-DDT), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (p,p'-DDE), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) congeners 118, 138, 153 and 180, hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH) in more than 85% of the subjects. p,pβ-DDE, HCB and β-HCH showed the highest concentrations (median. =399, 159 and 92. ng/g lipid, respectively). Distributions were highly skewed and interindividual differences were up to 7700-fold. POP levels differed significantly by gender, age, BMI, educational level, and parity. Conclusions: In Catalonia, an advanced European society, exposure to POPs remains common, a vast majority of the population has much lower blood concentrations than a relative minority, and the population distributions of POP are hence highly skewed to the right. Shifting distributions towards lower concentrations requires more energetic policies and population strategies. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-664
JournalEnvironment international
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Environmental pollutants/toxicity/prevention and control
  • Global health
  • Health survey
  • Human biomonitoring
  • Persistent organic pollutants
  • Pesticide residues


Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of blood concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in a representative sample of the population of Catalonia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this