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J Food Prot. 2003 Mar;66(3):479-84.

Levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in foods from Catalonia, Spain: estimated dietary intake.

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  • 1Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, Rovira i Virgili University, San Lorenzo 21, 43201 Reus, Spain.


From June to August 2000, food samples were randomly acquired in seven cities in Catalonia, Spain. Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations were determined for 108 samples of vegetables, fruits, pulses, cereals, fish and shellfish, meats and meat products, eggs, milk and dairy products, and oils and fats. Levels of 11 PCB congeners (IUPAC 28, 52, 77, 101, 105, 118, 126, 138, 153, 169, and 180) were determined by high-resolution gas chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry. For toxic equivalent (TEQ) calculations, World Health Organization (WHO) toxicity equivalent factors (WHO-TEFs) were used. The highest levels of most congeners were found in fish and shellfish (11,864.18 ng/kg [wet weight]), and the next highest levels, which were substantially lower, were found in milk and dairy products (674.50 ng/kg [wet weight]). For the general population of Catalonia, the total dietary intake of PCBs was found to be 150.13 pg WHO-TEQ/day. The largest contribution to this intake came from fish and shellfish (82.87 pg WHO-TEQ/day) and dairy products (29.38 pg WHO-TEQ per day). A relatively large contribution was also noted for cereals (11.36 pg WHO-TEQ/day). Among the PCB congeners determined in this study, PCB 126 showed the largest contribution to total TEQ intake (50.56%). The data obtained in this study should be useful in risk assessment with regard to human PCB exposure through food in Catalonia.

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