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Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Jan;115(1):20-7.

Polychlorinated biphenyls and their hydroxylated metabolites (OH-PCBS) in pregnant women from eastern Slovakia.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, USA.



Our aim in the present study was to characterize and quantify the levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and specific polychlorobiphenylol (OH-PCB) metabolites in maternal sera from women delivering in eastern Slovakia.


During 2002-2004, blood samples were collected from women delivering in two Slovak locations: Michalovce district, where PCBs were formerly manufactured, and Svidnik and Stropkov districts, about 70 km north.


A total of 762 and 341 pregnant women were sampled from Michalovce and Svidnik/Stropkov, respectively, and OH-PCBs were measured in 131 and 31. EVALUATION/MEASUREMENTS: We analyzed PCBs using gas chromatography (GC)/electron capture detection. OH-PCBs and pentachlorophenol (PCP) were determined as methyl derivatives using GC-electron capture negative ionization/mass spectrometry. We characterized distributions in the full cohort using inverse sampling weights.


The concentrations of both PCBs and OH-PCB metabolites of Michalovce mothers were about two times higher than those of the Svidnik/Stropkov mothers (p < 0.001). The median weighted maternal serum levels of the sum of PCBs (sigmaPCBs) were 5.73 ng/g wet weight (Michalovce) and 2.82 ng/g wet weight (Svidnik/Stropkov). The median sum of OH-PCBs (ZOH-PCBs) was 0.55 ng/g wet weight in Michalovce mothers and 0.32 ng/g wet weight in Svidnik/Stropkov mothers. 4-OH-2,2',3,4',5,5',6-Heptachlorobiphenyl (4-OH-CB187) was a primary metabolite, followed by 4-OH-2,2',3,4',5,5'-hexachlorobiphenyl (4-OH-CB146). Only four PCB congeners-CBs 153, 138, 180, and 170--had higher concentrations than 4-OH-CB187 and 4-OH-CB146 (p < 0.001). The median ratio of the sigmaOH-PCBs to the sigmaPCBs was 0.10.


Mothers residing in eastern Slovakia are still highly exposed to PCBs, and their body burdens of these pollutants and OH-PCB metabolites may pose a risk for adverse effects on health for themselves and their children.

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