Article Text

Does long term residency near industry have an impact on the body burden of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, furans, and polychlorinated biphenyls in older women?
  1. T Pless-Mulloli1,
  2. R Edwards2,
  3. D Howel1,
  4. R Wood1,
  5. O Paepke3,
  6. T Herrmann3
  1. 1School of Population and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Evidence for Population Health Unit, School of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, The Medical School, Manchester University, Manchester, UK
  3. 3ERGO Research Laboratory, Hamburg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr T Pless-Mulloli
 School of Population and Health Sciences, The Medical School, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK;


Background: For the retrospective study of environment and health linkages biomarkers of exposure are required. Polychlorinated dibenzo-dioxins and furans (PCDD/F) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been useful markers in some settings. This is the first study of PCDD/F body burden in a population based sample from the UK.

Aims and Methods: The authors aimed to investigate whether long term residents close to a heavy chemical industrial complex (Teesside, UK) had a higher body burden and distinct pattern of PCDD/F and PCBs. We measured current levels of PCDD/F and PCBs in a population based sample of older women (mean 64 years, range 42–79 years). Forty women were recruited, 20 living near (zone A: 0.1–2.7 km) and 20 distant (zone C: 5–40 km) from industry during 2000–03. The authors ascertained occupational exposure to lung carcinogens, residential history, consumption of local produce, breast feeding, diet, and height and weight.

Results: The mean body burden measured on lipid basis in ng/kg for the whole sample was: WHO-TEQ (PCDD/Fs): 29.9, 2378TCDD: 4.0, PCB 118:16200, PCB156: 13100. Body burdens were similar to others reported from industrialised countries, except that mean 2378TCDD was slightly higher. Mean ages, body mass index, and lifelong dietary patterns were similar in both zones. The authors found no significant difference in mean body burden levels between zones A and C before or after adjustment for covariates. All congener patterns were consistent with an urban background pattern, and there was no significant difference between congener compositions in the two zones. The TCDD body burden increased with age with accelerated increments above age 70.

Conclusion: Long term residency near heavy and chemical industry did not have an effect on women’s body burden of PCDD/Fs and PCBs on Teesside, UK. The body burden of PCDD/F and PCBs was not a suitable biomarker for chronic, non-occupational exposure to industrial air pollution.

  • PCB, polychlorinated biphenyls
  • PCDD/Fs, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD/Fs)
  • PCDD/F
  • body burden
  • proximity to industry
  • long term exposure

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Supplementary materials

  • The figure and tables are available as downloadable PDFs (printer friendly files).

    If you do not have Adobe Reader installed on your computer,
    you can download this free-of-charge, please Click here


    Files in this Data Supplement:

    • [view PDF] - Figure 3. Principal components plot for samples from residents of zones A and C.
    • [view PDF] - Table 4. PCDD/Fs congener profiles in residents of zone A (near industry) and zone C (away from industry).
    • [view PDF] - Table 5. TCDD and I-TEQ blood levels in general population samples since 1990 (age 40+ only).


  • Ethics: the protocol for this study was approved by the local research ethics committees. Participants gave informed consent and were fed back their individual results if this was requested.