Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Biphenyl


Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. In 2006, we did a systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants-manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers. We postulate that even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered. To control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity, we propose a global prevention strategy. Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity. To coordinate these efforts and to accelerate translation of science into prevention, we propose the urgent formation of a new international clearinghouse.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Developmental biology, Educational psychology, Solvent, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Biphenyl


Lifetime contaminant and hormonal profiles have been reconstructed for an individual male blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus, Linnaeus 1758) using the earplug as a natural aging matrix that is also capable of archiving and preserving lipophilic compounds. These unprecedented lifetime profiles (i.e., birth to death) were reconstructed with a 6-mo resolution for a wide range of analytes including cortisol (stress hormone), testosterone (developmental hormone), organic contaminants (e.g., pesticides and flame retardants), and mercury. Cortisol lifetime profiles revealed a doubling of cortisol levels over baseline. Testosterone profiles suggest this male blue whale reached sexual maturity at approximately 10 y of age, which corresponds well with and improves on previous estimates. Early periods of the reconstructed contaminant profiles for pesticides (such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes and chlordanes), polychlorinated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers demonstrate significant maternal transfer occurred at 0-12 mo. The total lifetime organic contaminant burden measured between the earplug (sum of contaminants in laminae layers) and blubber samples from the same organism were similar. Total mercury profiles revealed reduced maternal transfer and two distinct pulse events compared with organic contaminants. The use of a whale earplug to reconstruct lifetime chemical profiles will allow for a more comprehensive examination of stress, development, and contaminant exposure, as well as improve the assessment of contaminant use/emission, environmental noise, ship traffic, and climate change on these important marine sentinels.

Concepts: Hormone, Cortisol, Flame retardant, Puberty, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Biphenyl, Humpback whale, Whale song


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) are neurodevelopmental toxicants, but few studies have examined associations with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Concepts: Autism, Pesticide, Autism spectrum, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Soil contamination, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins


It has been speculated that marine microplastics may cause negative effects on benthic marine organisms and increase bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Here, we provide the first controlled study of plastic effects on benthic organisms including transfer of POPs. The effects of polystyrene (PS) microplastic on survival, activity, and bodyweight as well as the transfer of 19 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), were assessed in bioassays with Arenicola marina (L.). PS was pre-equilibrated in natively contaminated sediment. A positive relation was observed between microplastic concentration in the sediment and both uptake of plastic particles and weight loss by A. marina. Furthermore, a reduction in feeding activity was observed at a PS dose of 7.4% dry weight (DW). A low PS dose of 0.074% increased bioaccumulation of PCBs by a factor 1.1 - 3.6, an effect that was significant for ΣPCBs and several individual congeners. At higher doses, bioaccumulation decreased compared to the low dose, which however, was only significant for PCB105. PS has statistically significant effects on the organisms' fitness and bioaccumulation, but the magnitude of the effects was not high. This may be different for sites with different plastic concentrations, or plastics with a higher affinity for POPs.

Concepts: Plastic, Persistent organic pollutant, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Persistent organic pollutants, Biomagnification, PCB Congener List, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins


Serum polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Anniston, AL, residents have been associated with hypertension and diabetes. There have been no systematic interventions to reduce PCB body burdens in Anniston or other populations. Our objective was to determine the efficacy of 15 g/day of dietary olestra to reduce PCBs in Anniston residents. Blood PCBs and 1,1-bis-(4-chlorophenyl)-2,2-dichloroethene were measured at baseline and 4-month intervals in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 1-year trial. Participants with elevated serum PCBs were randomized into two groups of 14 and received potato crisps made with olestra or vegetable oil (VO). Elimination rates during the study period were compared with 5-year prestudy rates. Eleven participants in the olestra group and 12 in the VO group completed the study. Except for one participant in the VO group, reasons for dropout were unrelated to treatments. The elimination rate of 37 non-coplanar PCB congeners during the 1-year trial was faster during olestra consumption compared to the pretrial period (-0.0829±0.0357 and -0.00864±0.0116 year(-1), respectively; P=.04), but not during VO consumption (-0.0413±0.0408 and -0.0283±0.0096 year(-1), respectively; P=.27). The concentration of PCBs in two olestra group participants decreased by 27% and 25% during the trial. There was no significant time by group interaction in change from baseline. However, group main effects for total PCBs and PCB 153 were of borderline significance. This pilot study has demonstrated that olestra can safely reduce body burdens of PCBs and supports a larger intervention trial that may also determine whether reduction in PCBs will reduce the risk of hypertension and diabetes.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Polychlorinated biphenyl, PCB Congener List, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, Chloracne, Potato chip, Olestra


Maternal exposure to polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may result in adverse health effects in their children. In Japan in 1968, an accidental human exposure to rice oil contaminated with PCDDs, PCDFs, and PCBs, led to the development of Yusho disease. Yusho mothers delivered descendants with low birth weights and hyperpigmented skin and mucosa, which are characteristic of fetal Yusho disease (FYD). The Yusho cohort was used to evaluate the effect of maternal exposure to PCDDs, PCDFs, and PCBs on the development of FYD. Blood samples, obtained from 64 Yusho mothers (117 descendants: 10 with FYD and 107 without FYD), were analyzed for congeners of seven PCDDs, 10 PCDFs, and four coplanar PCBs. We investigated the association between the maternal estimated blood levels of dioxins at delivery and the risk of fetal Yusho disease. We also studied the differences in dioxin blood levels in 24 mother-descendant pairs (5 with FYD and 19 without FYD). The estimated levels of total PCDD TEQ, total PCDF TEQ, total coplanar PCB TEQ, and total TEQ in the maternal blood at delivery were associated with significantly increased risk of FYD. The odds ratios, which present the risk of FYD for a 10-fold increase in blood dioxin, were largest for 1,2,3,6,7,8-HexaCDD (odds ratio=28.6, 95% confidence interval=1.67-489.9, p=0.02). The levels of 1,2,3,6,7,8-HexaCDD in both the Yusho mothers and their descendants with FYD were higher than the levels in those without FYD. These findings suggest that 1,2,3,6,7,8-HexaCDD is the most important causative congener for the development of FYD.

Concepts: Persistent organic pollutant, Polychlorinated biphenyl, PCB Congener List, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, Chloracne, Aryl hydrocarbon receptor, Low birth weight paradox


This study aimed to compare the contamination levels of various organohalogenated compounds in two migratory fish species in the Vilaine River in western France. Organochlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins (polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans (PCDDs/Fs)), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were analyzed in two diadromous species from the Vilaine estuary, the grey mullet (Liza ramada)-an amphihaline species, and the allis shad (Alosa alosa)-an anadromous species. Fish were collected in spring 2004 and spring 2005, upstream and downstream of the Arzal Dam. PCB contamination varied from 27 to 200 ng g(-1) dry weight (d.w.). PCDDs/Fs, expressed in toxicity equivalent quantity (TEQ) varied from 0.4 to 2.8 pg g(-1) d.w. Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs expressed in total TEQ varied from 1.4 to 18.8 pg g(-1) d.w. PBDE47 was present at around 2-10 ng g(-1) d.w. and concentrations of the insecticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane breakdown product p,p'-dichlorodiphenylchloroethylene varied from 1 to 14 ng g(-1) d.w. For both species, specimens collected upstream were more contaminated. The grey mullet specimens were less contaminated than the allis shad when taken downstream of the dam but were more contaminated upstream. The allis shads presented intermediate contaminant concentrations with a less pronounced difference between upstream and downstream specimens. However, it is thought that shads do not feed when they spawn in the upstream parts of rivers, which should modify the contaminant concentrations. However, measurements in upstream shad samples show an unexpected increase of the contamination, which remains unexplained.

Concepts: River, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, Forage fish, Fish migration, Fish ladder, Shad


Paired human breast milk and scalp hair samples (n=30) were obtained in 2008 from primipara and multipara mothers living in two locations in the Philippines viz., Payatas, a waste dumpsite, and Malate, a non-dumpsite. Samples were analyzed for three groups of organohalogenated compounds, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs). PCBs were the predominantly identified compounds (median: 70ng/g lipid wt.) in all the breast milk samples. In the human milk, CB-153 was the most dominant PCB congener (17-44% contribution to the sum PCB), closely followed by CB-138 (12-35%), CB-118 (4-12%), CB-180 (2-13%), CB-187 (3-13%), and CB-170 (1.5-10%). Levels of PBDEs (median: 3.0ng/g lipid wt.) in human milk samples from the Philippines were similar to other Asian or European countries. BDE-47, -99, -100 and -153 were the major PBDE congeners. For HBCDs, the α-isomer was predominant followed by the γ-HBCD isomer in the both locations. PBDE levels in human milk were significantly higher in the dumpsite (3.9ng/g lipid wt.) than in the non-dump site (2.2ng/g lipid wt.). PBDE concentrations (including BDE-209) were significantly higher (median: 70ng/g hair) than those of PCBs (median: 30ng/g hair) and HBCDs (median: 1.0ng/g hair) in all the scalp hair samples. To our knowledge, this is the first report on HBCDs in human scalp hair. PBDE congeners in scalp hair were dominated by BDE-209 and BDE-47. On a congener basis, the levels of PBDEs found in scalp hair were higher than those in Spain (children and adults) and China (general people). PCB levels found in scalp hair were higher than those in Greece, Romania and Belgium, but lower than those in China. In this study, there were no significant differences in the concentration of PCBs and HBCDs in human milk; and PCBs, HBCDs and PBDEs in human scalp hair from the two different locations. No significant correlations were observed between PCBs, PBDEs and HBCDs levels and age of mothers in this study, which may be due to the small number of samples. Furthermore, there was no correlation between milk and hair levels for more persistent compounds (PCB-153, PCB-138, or BDE-47), and thus it is worthy to follow-up in future studies along with more number of samples. This is the first report to provide measurement data for PCBs, PBDEs and HBCDs in paired milk and hair of populations in the Philippines.

Concepts: Milk, Flame retardant, Breast, Breast milk, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Biphenyl, Brominated flame retardant, Flame retardants


Chemical contaminants can be introduced into estuarine and marine ecosystems from a variety of sources including wastewater, agriculture and forestry practices, point and non-point discharges, runoff from industrial, municipal, and urban lands, accidental spills, and atmospheric deposition. The diversity of potential sources contributes to the likelihood of contaminated marine waters and sediments and increases the probability of uptake by marine organisms. Despite widespread recognition of direct and indirect pathways for contaminant deposition and organismal exposure in coastal systems, spatial and temporal variability in contaminant composition, deposition, and uptake patterns are still poorly known. We investigated these patterns for a suite of persistent legacy contaminants including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and chemicals of emerging concern including pharmaceuticals within two Oregon coastal estuaries (Coos and Netarts Bays). In the more urbanized Coos Bay, native Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) tissue had approximately twice the number of PCB congeners at over seven times the total concentration, yet fewer PBDEs at one-tenth the concentration as compared to the more rural Netarts Bay. Different pharmaceutical suites were detected during each sampling season. Variability in contaminant types and concentrations across seasons and between species and media (organisms versus sediment) indicates the limitation of using indicator species and/or sampling annually to determine contaminant loads at a site or for specific species. The results indicate the prevalence of legacy contaminants and CECs in relatively undeveloped coastal environments highlighting the need to improve policy and management actions to reduce contaminant releases into estuarine and marine waters and to deal with legacy compounds that remain long after prohibition of use. Our results point to the need for better understanding of the ecological and human health risks of exposure to the diverse cocktail of pollutants and harmful compounds that will continue to leach from estuarine sediments over time.

Concepts: Water, Oyster, Estuary, Polychlorinated biphenyl, PCB Congener List, Biphenyl, Chesapeake Bay, Olympia oyster


Plant uptake and acropetal translocation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is a major concern, with many uncertainties, especially when plants are exposed to co-existing PCBs and metals. Studying atropisomer selectivity behaviour is a well-proven method for identifying the biotransformation process of chiral PCBs in plants. This study investigated the uptake, translocation, and stereoselectivity of PCB95 and PCB136 (3 μg/L in hydroponics and 200 μg/kg in pot experiment) by the monocot corn and dicot sunflower after copper (Cu) exposure (50 μmol/L in hydroponics and 400 mg/kg in pot experiment). Cu exposure led to significantly increased PCBs accumulation in roots and enhanced their acropetal translocation from roots to shoots, attributed to Cu-induced root damage. In the absence of Cu, the first-eluting enantiomer of PCB95 and second-eluting enantiomer of PCB136 were preferentially enriched in the shoots and roots of both the monocot and the dicot, and the enantioselectivity of chiral PCBs was more pronounced in shoots than in roots. Cu exposure significantly reduced the stereoselectivity of PCB95 and PCB136 in the defective root system, implying that PCB95 and PCB136 uptake into roots after Cu exposure changed from active biotransformation to passive diffusion. Our findings suggest that the ecological risk of PCB95 and PCB136 uptake and accumulation in plants is underestimated at sites co-contaminated with metals and PCBs and, for the first time, reveal the mechanism associated with the uptake and biotransformation of chiral PCBs in plants after exposure to both heavy metals and chiral PCBs.

Concepts: Plant, Copper, Enantiomer, Root, Heavy metal music, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins