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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Sep 4;46(17):9653-62. doi: 10.1021/es301129h. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Subchronic inhalation exposure study of an airborne polychlorinated biphenyl mixture resembling the Chicago ambient air congener profile.

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Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Human Toxicology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, United States.


Although inhalation of atmospheric polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is the most universal exposure route and has become a substantial concern in urban areas, research is lacking to determine the body burden of inhaled PCBs and consequent health effects. To reflect the Chicago airshed environment and mimic the PCB profile in Chicago air, we generated vapors from a Chicago air mixture (CAM). Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to the CAM vapor for 1.6 h/day via nose-only inhalation for 4 weeks, 520 ± 10 μg/m(3). Congener-specific quantification in tissue and air samples was performed by gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (GC/MS/MS). In contrast to the lower-chlorinated congener-enriched vapor, body tissues mainly contained tri- to hexachlorobiphenyls. Congener profiles varied between vapor and tissues and among different organs. The toxic equivalence (TEQ) and neurotoxic equivalence (NEQ) were also investigated for tissue distribution. We evaluated a variety of end points to catalogue the effects of long-term inhalation exposure, including immune responses, enzyme induction, cellular toxicity, and histopathologic abnormalities. Glutathione oxidized/reduced ratio (GSSG/GSH) was increased in the blood of exposed animals, accompanied by elevation of hematocrit. This study demonstrated that inhalation contributed to the body burden of mostly tri- to hexachlorobiphenyls and produced a distinct profile of congeners in tissue, yet minimal toxicity was found at this exposure dose, estimated at 134 μg/rat.

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