Number of persistent organic pollutants detected at high concentrations in blood samples of the United States population

José Pumarega, Magda Gasull, Duk Hee Lee, Tomàs López, Miquel Porta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Pumarega et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Human exposure to environmental chemicals as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is usually assessed considering each pollutant individually, with little attention to concentrations of mixtures in individuals or social groups. Yet, it may be relatively common for humans to have low and high concentrations of numerous POPs. The study objectives were to analyze the number of POPs detected per person at high concentrations in the U.S. population, and the associations between such type of indicators and socioeconomic factors as gender, race / ethnicity, education, and poverty level. From 91 POPs analyzed in serum samples of 4,739 individuals in three subsamples of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 (the last period with valid updated individual data for the compounds considered in the present study), we computed the number of POPs whose serum concentrations were above selected cutoff points. POPs included were 13 organochlorine compounds (OCs), 10 polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), the polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) 153, 38 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 17 polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDDs/Fs), and 12 perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). Over 13% of participants had 10 of the 37 most detected POPs each at a concentration in the top decile (P90). Over 30% of subjects with total toxic equivalency (TEQ) P75, had 10 of 24 POPs not included in TEQ calculations at concentrations P90. Compared to non-Hispanic whites, the adjusted odds ratio of having 10 of the 37 POPs at P90 was 9.2 for non-Hispanic blacks and 0.18 for Mexican Americans. Poverty, body mass index, age, and gender were also independently associated with having 10 POPs in the top decile. More than one tenth of the US population may have 10 POPs each at concentrations in the top decile. Such pattern is nine times more frequent in Non-Hispanic blacks and four times less frequent in Mexican Americans than in non-Hispanic whites.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0160432
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

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