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Concept: Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins


Temporal trends of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) measured in Arctic air are essential in understanding long-range transport to remote regions and to evaluate the effectiveness of national and international chemical control initiatives, such as the Stockholm Convention (SC) on POPs. Long-term air monitoring of POPs is conducted under the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) at four Arctic stations: Alert, Canada; Stórhöfði, Iceland; Zeppelin, Svalbard; and Pallas, Finland, since the 1990s using high volume air samplers. Temporal trends observed for POPs in Arctic air are summarized in this study. Most POPs listed for control under the SC, e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes (DDTs) and chlordanes, are declining slowly in Arctic air, reflecting the reduction of primary emissions during the last two decades and increasing importance of secondary emissions. Slow declining trends also signifies their persistence and slow degradation under the Arctic environment, such that they are still detectable after being banned for decades in many countries. Some POPs, e.g. hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and lighter PCBs, showed increasing trends at specific locations, which may be attributable to warming in the region and continued primary emissions at source. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) do not decline in air at Canada’s Alert station but are declining in European Arctic air, which may be due to influence of local sources at Alert and the much higher historical usage of PBDEs in North America. Arctic air samples are screened for chemicals of emerging concern to provide information regarding their environmental persistence (P) and long-range transport potential (LRTP), which are important criteria for classification as a POP under SC. The AMAP network provides consistent and comparable air monitoring data of POPs for trend development and acts as a bridge between national monitoring programs and SC’s Global Monitoring Plan (GMP).

Concepts: Canada, Norway, Persistent organic pollutant, Arctic Ocean, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Persistent organic pollutants, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins


Here we report a low-cost synthetic approach for the direct fabrication of large-area Au nanourchin arrays on indium tin oxide (ITO) via a facile galvanic-cell-reaction-driven deposition in an aqueous solution of chloroauric acid and poly(vinyl pyrrolidone) (PVP). The homogeneous Au nanourchins are composed of abundant sharp nanotips, which can served as nanoantennas and increase the local electromagnetic field enhancement dramatically. Finite element theoretical calculations confirm the strong electromagnetic field can be created around the sharp nanotips and located in the nanogaps between adjacent tips of the Au nanourchins. In addition, the interparticle nanogaps between the neighboring Au nanourchins may create additional hotspots, which can induce the higher electromagnetic field intensity. By using rhodamine 6G as a test molecule, the large-area Au nanourchin arrays on ITO exhibit active, uniform, and reproducible surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) effect. To trial their practical application, the Au nanourchin arrays are utilized as SERS substrates to detect 3,3’,4,4’-tetrachlorobiphenyl (PCB-77) one congener of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as a notorious class of persistent organic pollutants. The characteristic Raman peaks can be still identified when the concentration of PCB-77 is down to 5 × 10−6 M.

Concepts: Photon, Concentration, Chemistry, Indium tin oxide, Indium(III) oxide, Persistent organic pollutant, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins


Although persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants (PBTs) are well-studied individually, their distribution and variability on a global scale are largely unknown, particularly in marine fish. Using 2,662 measurements collected from peer-reviewed literature spanning 1969-2012, we examined variability of five classes of PBTs, considering effects of geography, habitat, and trophic level on observed concentrations. While we see large-scale spatial patterning in some PBTs (chlordanes, polychlorinated biphenyls), habitat type and trophic level did not contribute to significant patterning, with the exception of mercury. We further examined patterns of change in PBT concentration as a function of sampling year. All PBTs showed significant declines in concentration levels through time, ranging from 15-30% reduction per decade across PBT groups. Despite consistent evidence of reductions, variation in pollutant concentration remains high, indicating ongoing consumer risk of exposure to fish with pollutant levels exceeding EPA screening values. The temporal trends indicate that mitigation programs are effective, but that global levels decline slowly. In order for monitoring efforts to provide more targeted assessments of risk to PBT exposure, these data highlight an urgent need for improved replication and standardization of pollutant monitoring protocols for marine finfish.

Concepts: Time, Scientific method, Toxicology, Pollution, Food chain, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Biomagnification, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins


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


In order to screen dioxin pollution in sediment of Three Gorges Dam (TGD) area, three sediment cores were obtained from two sites in 2010~2011; each core was divided into different samples with every 10 cm depth. Sediment dating determined by radiometry ((137)Cs, (210)Pb) and concentrations of dioxins were analyzed by high-resolution gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The results indicated: Sediment dating showed no significant difference among all the samples from the same core and the two locations (ANOVA, p > 0.05). The total amount of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD)/Fs in all sample ranged from 30.7 to 371 pg/g dry weight (d.w.), with the mean value of 66.2 pg/g d.w. PCDDs occupied 60.33~85.22 % of dioxins in each sample, and PCDFs contributed to a very small extend. There was no significant difference in the dioxin concentration between 2010 and 2011 and in the two locations (t test, p > 0.05), but the vertical distribution of dioxins showed significant different in different depths. Toxic equivalent (TEQ) (WHO 2005, Humans) of samples ranged from 0.15 to 1.60 pg/g d.w.; the mean was 0.41 pg/g d.w. No significant difference was found in TEQ between 2010 and 2011(t test, p > 0.05). It could be concluded that the distribution of dioxins showed the spatial heterogeneous which resulted from the strong mixing and sediment deposition characteristics. Dioxin concentration in sediment cores was low with very low environmental risk potential. Dioxins at the two sites had the same origin, and exogenous input was the main source. It is the first report on the dioxins concentrations in sediment cores in the TGD area.

Concepts: Statistics, Arithmetic mean, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, Three Gorges Dam, Hubei, Three Gorges


BACKGROUND: In the absence of current cumulative dietary exposure assessments, this analysis was conducted to estimate exposure to multiple dietary contaminants for children, who are more vulnerable to toxic exposure than adults. METHODS: We estimated exposure to multiple food contaminants based on dietary data from preschool-age children (2–4 years, n=207), school-age children (5–7 years, n=157), parents of young children (n=446), and older adults (n=149). We compared exposure estimates for eleven toxic compounds (acrylamide, arsenic, lead, mercury, chlorpyrifos, permethrin, endosulfan, dieldrin, chlordane, DDE, and dioxin) based on self-reported food frequency data by age group. To determine if cancer and non-cancer benchmark levels were exceeded, chemical levels in food were derived from publicly available databases including the Total Diet Study. RESULTS: Cancer benchmark levels were exceeded by all children (100%) for arsenic, dieldrin, DDE, and dioxins. Non-cancer benchmarks were exceeded by >95% of preschool-age children for acrylamide and by 10% of preschool-age children for mercury. Preschool-age children had significantly higher estimated intakes of 6 of 11 compounds compared to school-age children (p<0.0001 to p=0.02). Based on self-reported dietary data, the greatest exposure to pesticides from foods included in this analysis were tomatoes, peaches, apples, peppers, grapes, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, spinach, dairy, pears, green beans, and celery. CONCLUSIONS: Dietary strategies to reduce exposure to toxic compounds for which cancer and non-cancer benchmarks are exceeded by children vary by compound. These strategies include consuming organically produced dairy and selected fruits and vegetables to reduce pesticide intake, consuming less animal foods (meat, dairy, and fish) to reduce intake of persistent organic pollutants and metals, and consuming lower quantities of chips, cereal, crackers, and other processed carbohydrate foods to reduce acrylamide intake.

Concepts: Nutrition, Pollution, Fruit, Persistent organic pollutant, Insecticide, DDT, Food safety, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins