Background: Surveys of human exposure to environmental chemicals do not integrate the number of compounds detected per person and the concentration of each compound. This leaves untested relevant exposure scenarios, such as whether individuals with low concentrations of some compounds have high concentrations of the other compounds. Objective: To analyze the number of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) detected at high concentrations. Methods: Serum concentrations of 19 POPs were analyzed by gas chromatography with electron-capture detection in a representative sample of the general population of Catalonia, Spain (N = 919). Results: Over 58% of participants had concentrations in the top quartile of ≥ 1 of the eight most prevalent POPs, and 34% of ≥ 3 POPs. 83% of women 60 to 74. years old had concentrations of ≥ 3 POPs in the top quartile; 56% of women 60 to 74. years had p,p'-DDE, HCB and β-HCH all in their respective top quartiles, and 48% had concentrations of ≥ 6 POPs in the top quartile. Over 30% of subjects had concentrations in the top decile of 1 to 5 of the eight most prevalent POPs. Half of the population had levels of 1 to 5 POPs > 500. ng/g. Less than 4% had all eight POPs in the lowest quartile. Conclusions: More than half of the study population had concentrations in the top quartile of ≥ 1 POPs. Significant subgroups of the population accumulate POP mixtures at high concentrations. POP concentrations appear low in most of the population only when each individual compound is looked at separately. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
- Environmental exposure/adverse effects
- Environmental pollutants/prevention and control
- Health survey
- Human biomonitoring
- Persistent organic pollutants