In surveys of three groups of workers occupationally exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) serum PCB concentrations were quantitated as lower chlorinated biphenyls (L-PCBs) and higher chlorinated biphenyls (H-PCBs). Serum L-PCB and H-PCB concentrations were many times greater among workers employed in power capacitor manufacturing than exposed areas. Statistically significant positive correlations of symptoms suggestive of mucous membrane and skin irritation, of systemic malaise, and altered peripheral sensation were noted with increasing concentrations of serum PCB. No clinical abnormalities attributable to exposure to PCB were observed. Serum PCB concentrations were positively and significantly correlated with glutamic-oxalacetic transaminase (SGOT), serum gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGTP), and plasma triglyceride, and inversely correlated with plasma high density lipoprotein-cholesterol. These correlations were present across all study sites. These findings are indicative of PCBs' physiological effect on the liver, whose long-range health significance is unknown. Nevertheless, the consistent positive association of serum PCB with plasma triglyceride and negative association with plasma HDL-cholesterol may have long-term cardiovascular consequences.
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