PCB in serum and hand wipes from exposed residents living in contaminated high-rise apartment buildings and a reference group

Tidsskriftartikel - 2020


Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in buildings constructed with PCB-containing materials can lead to increased body burden of PCB for building users. Exposure to PCB from building related sources was assessed by measuring PCB in serum and hand wipes in two groups of tenants living in the same building estate in apartments constructed with and without PCB. The median serum levels of the sum of 19 PCB congeners was 777 ng/g lw (5–95th percentile: 219–2576 ng/g lw) for the exposed group and 282 ng/g lw (5–95th percentile: 49.8–797 ng/g lw) for the reference group. The congener pattern in serum of the exposed was shifted towards lower chlorinated congeners and was dominated by tri- and tetrachlorinated congeners. The largest difference in serum levels between the groups was observed for PCB-28, with median levels of the exposed being 70 times higher than in the reference group. For very persistent lower chlorinated congeners, like PCB-28, 66 and 74, an increase with residence times was observed as a result of accumulation over time. Less persistent congeners such as PCB-44 and 70 were also elevated in the exposed group -but independent of residence time. The less persistent congeners can therefore be used as markers of recent exposure to original PCB sources. The hand wipes also showed a large exposure contrast, e.g. PCB-28 being more than 60 times higher in the exposed group compared to the reference group (medians 14.4 and 0.23 ng/wipe, respectively) and no overlap between the groups. All measured di- to pentaPCB congeners were significantly higher in hand wipes from the exposed group compared with the reference group. Thus hand wipes seem to be a good, non-invasive screening tool for ongoing indoor exposure to PCB. Furthermore, the measured level of PCB on hand wipes was significantly correlated to PCB in blood for almost all congeners. In conclusion, PCB exposure in contaminated buildings can contribute significantly to the exposure and total body burden of PCB and the lower chlorinated congeners can make up the majority of the total PCB body burden.


Frederiksen M, Andersen HV, Haug LS, Thomsen C, Broadwell SL, Egsmose EL, Kolarik B, Gunnarsen L, Knudsen LE. PCB in serum and hand wipes from exposed residents living in contaminated high-rise apartment buildings and a reference group. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 2020;224:113430.
doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.113430

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