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Environ Int. 2010 Nov;36(8):855-61. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2009.03.005. Epub 2009 Apr 24.

External exposure and bioaccumulation of PCBs in humans living in a contaminated urban environment.

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Dept of Applied Environmental Science ITM, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.


Humans are exposed to different mixtures of PCBs depending on the route of exposure. In this study we investigated the potential contribution of inhalation to the overall human exposure to PCBs in an urban area. For this purpose, the mechanistically based, non-steady state bioaccumulation model ACC-HUMAN was applied to predict the PCB body burden in an adult living in the Midwestern United States who eats a typical North American diet and inhales air contaminated with PCBs. Dietary exposure was estimated using measured data for eighteen PCB congeners in different food groups (fish, meat and egg, dairy products). Two scenarios for inhalation exposure were evaluated: one using air concentrations measured in Chicago, and a second using air measurements in a remote area on Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes. The model predicted that exposure via inhalation increases the accumulated mass of PCBs in the body by up to 30% for lower chlorinated congeners, while diet is by far the dominant source of exposure for those PCB congeners that accumulate most in humans.

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