Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Environ Health Perspect. 1995 Dec;103 Suppl 9:7-16.

Biomarkers for Great Lakes priority contaminants: halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons.

Author information

Bureau of Chemical Safety, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.


One of the major goals of the Great Lakes Action Plan is to actively accumulate and assess toxicological information on persistent toxic substances found in the Great Lakes basin. As part of Health Canada's commitment to this plan, a review of biomarkers for the environmental contaminants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins/dibenzofurans (PCDDs/PCDFs) was conducted. In general, while food consumption was identified as the major source of human exposure to both contaminant groups, certain commodities, such as fish, milk and dairy products, and meat, were found to predominate. Due to the ubiquitous nature of these environmental contaminants and their propensity to bioaccumulate, all humans will have detectable body burdens, which in certain cases can be positively associated with the consumption of particular foods (i.e., PCBs and freshwater fish from the Great Lakes). When dealing with environmental exposure only, relating specific effect biomarkers to contaminant exposure or tissue levels was difficult, due in part to the complex nature of the exposure and the nonspecific nature of the effect. For PCBs, the most likely biomarkers of effect included some form of alteration in lipid metabolism (serum triglyceride/cholesterol levels) and elevation of hepatic-related enzymes, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). Cross-species extrapolation also indicates the potential for neurotoxicologic effects to occur in humans. For PCDDs/PCDFs, dermatologic lesions (chloracne) and indications of hepatic enzyme induction have been documented, but primarily due to occupational or high acute accidental exposures. Recent evidence suggests that neonates may represent a potential at-risk population due to relatively high exposure to PCDDs/PCDFs, as with PCBs, during breast feeding as compared to standard adult dietary intake. Future areas of potential benefit for biomarker development include immunologic and endocrine effects, primarily based on biologic plausibility from experimental animal research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center