Persistent organochlorines in the serum of the non-occupationally exposed New Zealand population

Michael N. Bates, Simon J. Buckland, Nick Garrett, Howard Ellis, Larry L. Needham, Donald G. Patterson, Wayman E. Turner, David G. Russell

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95 Scopus citations


Concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and organochlorine pesticides were measured in the serum of a sample of the New Zealand population aged 15 years and older. This was the first study to obtain representative measures of PCDDs, PCDFs and PCBs in the adult population of an entire country. Serum samples were obtained in 1996-1997. Potentially occupationally exposed individuals were excluded. Serum samples were pooled according to stratification criteria for area of residence, ethnicity, age, and sex. Of the 80 possible strata, sufficient serum for chemical analysis was available for 60, to which 1,834 individual samples contributed. For the PCDDs and PCDFs, most 2,3,7,8-chlorinated congeners were measured in all strata, with a mean toxic equivalents concentration across all strata of 12.8 ng TEQ kg -1 lipid. Seven PCB congeners were frequently measured, including the coplanar congeners #126 and #169, quantified in all strata. Of the pesticides and their metabolites, only β-HCH, dieldrin and pp′-DDE were consistently detected across strata. There was a general trend of increasing concentration with age. There were no consistent differences between the sexes, or between people of Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) and non-Maori ethnicity. Concentrations of PCDDs and PCDFs tended to increase in a North-South direction, possibly reflecting greater levels of industrialization and population concentration, and concentrations of the pesticide products were highest in the South, possibly reflecting historical use patterns. Results were consistent with a recent study of concentrations of these compounds in the milk of first-time mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1431-1443
Number of pages13
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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