Toxicological studies and limited human studies have demonstrated associations between exposure to polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and adverse developmental and reproductive health effects. Given that children may be particularly susceptible to reproductive and developmental effects of organochlorines, and the paucity of information available regarding childhood exposures to dioxins in particular, we undertook a pilot study to describe the distribution of, and identify potential predictors of exposure to, dioxin-like compounds and dioxins among adolescent boys in Chapaevsk, Russia. The pilot study was also designed to guide the development of a large prospective cohort study on the relationship of exposure to PCDDs, PCDFs, and PCBs with growth and pubertal development in peri-pubertal Chapaevsk boys.
221 boys age 14 to 17 participated in the pilot study. Each of the boys, with his mother, was asked to complete a nurse-administered detailed questionnaire on medical history, diet, and lifestyle. The diet questions were used to measure the current and lifetime consumption of locally grown or raised foods. Blood samples from 30 of these boys were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for analysis of dioxins, furans and PCBs.
The median (25th, 75th percentile) concentrations for total PCDDs, PCDFs and coplanar PCBs were 95.8 pg/g lipids (40.9, 144), 33.9 pg/g lipids (20.4, 61.8), and 120 pg/g lipids (77.6, 157), respectively. For WHO-TEQs, the median (25th, 75th percentile) for total PCDDs, PCDFs, and coplanar PCBs were 0.29 (0.1, 9.14), 7.98 (5.27, 12.3), and 7.39 (4.51, 11.9), respectively. Although TCDD was largely non-detectable, two boys had high TCDD levels (17.9 and 21.7 pg/g lipid). Higher serum levels of sum of dioxin-like compounds and sum of dioxin TEQs were positively associated with increased age, consumption of fish, local meats other than chicken, PCB 118, and inversely with weeks of gestation.
The total TEQs among Chapaevsk adolescents were higher than most values previously reported in non-occupationally exposed populations of comparable or even older ages. Dietary consumption of local foods, as well as age and weeks of gestation, predicted dioxin exposure in this population.