Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hydroxylated metabolites of PCBs (HO-PCBs) and octachlorostyrene (4-HO-HpCS), and pentachlorophenol (PCP) were determined in umbilical cord plasma samples from three different regions of Québec. The regions studied included two coastal areas where exposure to PCBs is high because of marine-food-based diets–Nunavik (Inuit people) and the Lower North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (subsistence fishermen)–and a southern Québec urban center where PCB exposure is at background levels (Québec City). The main chlorinated phenolic compound in all regions was PCP. Concentrations of PCP were not significantly different among regions (geometric mean concentration 1,670 pg/g, range 628-7,680 pg/g wet weight in plasma). The ratio of PCP to polychlorinated biphenyl congener number 153 (CB153) concentration ranged from 0.72 to 42.3. Sum HO-PCB (sigma HO-PCBs) concentrations were different among regions, with geometric mean concentrations of 553 (range 238-1,750), 286 (103-788), and 234 (147-464) pg/g wet weight plasma for the Lower North Shore, Nunavik, and the southern Québec groups, respectively. Lower North Shore samples also had the highest geometric mean concentration of sum PCBs (sum of 49 congeners; sigma PCBs), 2,710 (525-7,720) pg/g wet weight plasma. sigma PCB concentrations for Nunavik samples and southern samples were 1,510 (309-6,230) and 843 (290-1,650) pg/g wet weight plasma. Concentrations (log transformed) of sigma HO-PCBs and sigma PCBs were significantly correlated (r = 0.62, p < 0.001), as were concentrations of all major individual HO-PCB congeners and individual PCB congeners. In Nunavik and Lower North Shore samples, free thyroxine (T4) concentrations (log transformed) were negatively correlated with the sum of quantitated chlorinated phenolic compounds (sum PCP and sigma HO-PCBs; r = -0.47, p = 0.01, n = 20) and were not correlated with any PCB congeners or sigma PCBs. This suggests that PCP and HO-PCBs are possibly altering thyroid hormone status in newborns, which could lead to neurodevelopmental effects in infants. Further studies are needed to examine the effects of chlorinated phenolic compounds on thyroid hormone status in newborns.
C.D. Sandau, P. Ayotte, É. Dewailly, J. Duffe, R.J. Norstrom. 2002. Pentachlorophenol and hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyl metabolites in umbilical cord plasma of neonates from coastal populations in Québec. Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 110, No. 4, p. 411-417.
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