Impact of iron and steel industry and waste incinerators on human exposure to dioxins, PCBs, and heavy metals: results of a cross-sectional study in Belgium.J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2007 Feb 01; 70(3-4):222-6.JT
We evaluated the impact of two iron and steel plants and two municipal solid waste incinerators (MSWI) in Wallonia (Belgium) on the exposure of residents to dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals. In total, 142 volunteers living around these facilities were recruited and compared with 63 referents from a rural area with no industrial source of pollution. Information about smoking habits, dietary habits, anthropometric characteristics, residential history, and health status was obtained from a self-administered questionnaire. The volunteers provided blood under fasting conditions in order to evaluate the body burden of dioxins (17 polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans [PCDD/Fs] congeners) and PCBs. Samples of blood and urine were also taken for the determination of cadmium, mercury, and lead. After adjustment for covariates, concentrations of cadmium, mercury, and lead in urine or blood were not increased in subjects living in the vicinity of MSWIs or sinter plants by comparison with referents. Residents around the sinter plants and the MSWI located in the industrial area had concentrations of dioxins and PCBs in serum similar to that of referents. By contrast, subjects living in the vicinity of the MSWI in the rural area showed significantly higher serum levels of dioxins (geometric mean, 38 vs. 24 pg TEQ/g fat) and coplanar PCBs (geometric mean, 10.8 vs. 7.0 pg TEQ/g fat). Although age-adjusted dioxin levels in referents did not vary with local animal fat consumption, concentrations of dioxins in subjects living around the incinerators correlated positively with their intake of local animal fat, with almost a doubling in subjects with the highest fat intake. These results indicate that dioxins and coplanar PCBs emitted by MSWIs can indeed accumulate in the body of residents who regularly consume animal products of local origin.