Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides in pooled human serum by age and gender

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Organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) have been used for many decades in Australia with cessation of selected persistent and bioaccumulative OCPs ranging from the 1970 s to as recently as 2007. The specific aims of this study were to use samples representative of an Australian population to assess age and gender differences in the concentration of OCPs in human blood sera and to investigate temporal trends in these chemicals.

Serum was collected from de-identified, surplus pathology samples over five time periods (2002/03, 2006/07, 2008/09, 2010/11 and 2012/13), with 183 serum pools made from 12,175 individual samples; 26 pools in 2002/03, 85 pools in 2006/07 and 24 pools each in 2008/09, 2010/11 and 2012/13. Samples were analyzed for hexachlorobenzene (HCB), β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH), γ -hexachlorocyclohexane (lindane) (γ-HCH), oxy-chlordane, trans-nonachlor, p,p′-DDE, o,p′-DDT, p,p′-DDT and Mirex. Stratification criteria included gender and age (0–4; 5–15; 16–30; 31–45; 46–60; and >60 years) with age additionally stratified by adults >16 years and children 0–4 and 5–15 years.

All pools from all collection periods had detectable concentrations of OCPs with a detection frequency of >60% for HCB, β-HCH, trans-nonachlor, p,p′-DDT and p,p′-DDE. The overall OCP concentrations increased with age with the highest concentrations in the >60 years groups. Females did not have higher mean OCP concentrations than males except for HCB concentrations (p=0.0006).

Temporal trends showed overall decreasing serum concentrations by collection period with the exception of an increase in OCP concentrations between 2006/07 and 2008/09. Excluding this data point, HCB decreased from year to year by 7–76%; β-HCH concentrations decreased by 14 – 38%; trans-nonachlor concentrations decreased by 10 – 65%; p,p′-DDE concentrations decreased by 6 – 52%; and p,p′-DDT concentrations decreased by 7 – 30%. The results indicate that OCP concentrations have decreased over time as is to be expected following the phase out of these chemicals in Australia.

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