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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Sep 17;47(18):10405-14. doi: 10.1021/es401447w. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

Environmental determinants of polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in residential carpet dust.

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Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services , Bethesda, Maryland 20892-5465, United States.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), banned in the United Sates in the late 1970s, are still found in indoor and outdoor environments. Little is known about the determinants of PCB levels in homes. We measured concentrations of five PCB congeners (105, 138, 153, 170, and 180) in carpet dust collected between 1998 and 2000 from 1187 homes in four sites: Detroit, Iowa, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Home characteristics, occupational history, and demographic information were obtained by interview. We used a geographic information system to geocode addresses and determine distances to the nearest major road, freight route, and railroad; percentage of developed land; number of industrial facilities within 2 km of residences; and population density. Ordinal logistic regression was used to estimate the associations between the covariates of interest and the odds of PCB detection in each site separately. Total PCB levels [all congeners < maximum practical quantitation limit (MPQL) vs at least one congener ≥ MPQL to < median concentration vs at least one congener > median concentration] were positively associated with either percentage of developed land [odds ratio (OR) range 1.01-1.04 for each percentage increase] or population density (OR 1.08 for every 1000/mi(2)) in each site. The number of industrial facilities within 2 km of a home was associated with PCB concentrations; however, facility type and direction of the association varied by site. Our findings suggest that outdoor sources of PCBs may be significant determinants of indoor concentrations.

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