Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethanes (DDTs) in human hair and serum in rural and urban areas in South China

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Human hair has been employed as a biomarker for exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs), but information on the source of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and its metabolites in hair is limited. The present study investigated the contamination of DDTs in human hair from a rural area and an urban area of South China and compared with those in human serum and indoor dust. The concentrations of ΣDDTs ranged from 2.30 to 489 ng/g, with a median of 21.8 ng/g in human hair. The ΣDDT concentrations (median=40.8 ng/g) in female hair were significantly higher than those in male hair (median=20.6 ng/g). There were significantly positive correlations between the concentrations of DDTs and ages in both the female and male hair, but the age-dependence for DDTs in serum was less significant. The profile of DDT analogues in female hair, differing from that in the male hair, was more similar to that in the indoor dust, suggesting a more important role of exogenous exposure in female hair. We estimated that exogenous source is responsible for approximately 11% and 20% of the burden of DDTs in the male and female hair, respectively. Adjusted multiple linear regression model showed significantly positive association between the p,p'-DDE concentrations in the paired hair and serum samples, indicating that endogenous origins are the primary sources of DDTs in the hair of the residents in the study areas. Our findings demonstrated that human hair is a reliable biomarker for body burden of DDTs and can be used in epidemiology research and retrospective assessment of DDT exposure.

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