Issue 1, 2002


Increased cancer incidence and mortality have been found among humans exposed to high levels of organochlorines (OCs), either accidentally or as industrial workers. In order to assess levels of OCs in Norwegian women north of the Arctic Circle and validate self-reported fish consumption as a surrogate measure of organochlorine body burden, concentrations of seven polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners [IUPAC Nos. CB-105, CB-118, CB-138 (+ CB-163), CB-153, CB-180, CB-183, CB-187], β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH), 2,2′-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dichloroethylene (p,p′-DDE) and cis- and trans-chlordane (c-CD and t-CD) were examined in plasma samples of middle-aged women attending for health screening. Altogether, 47 of those invited (81%) completed a questionnaire and donated a suitable blood sample. The ability of questionnaire data to predict plasma levels of OCs was tested in linear and logistic regression analyses. Measured plasma concentrations were in the range reported for the general female population of other Western countries and the relative amounts of PCBs were similar to the circumpolar pattern. Intake of seagulls' eggs was a predictor of PCB congeners CB-138 (+CB-163) (p < 0.05) and CB-153 (p < 0.01). No other food category was positively associated with any compound. In contrast, duration of residence in the study municipality, body mass index (BMI) and lifetime lactation (months) were the best univariate predictors. There was an increase in β-HCH, p,p′-DDE and most of the PCBs (p < 0.05 for all) with increasing length of time a subject had lived in the municipality. BMI was a positive predictor for β-HCH (OR = 3.10, 95% CI 1.50–6.43, per 5 kg m−2), chlordane (OR = 2.13, 95% CI 1.12–4.05, per 5 kg m−2) and CB-105 and CB-153 (p < 0.05 for both). Lactation was negatively associated with all OCs (p < 0.05), except chlordane and two of the PCB congeners. Time living in the municipality and lactation explained 34% of the variance in concentration of total PCB in a multivariate model (p < 0.001). The results indicate that regular consumption of fish (mostly lean species) from the Norwegian waters is not associated with an increased body burden of OCs (e.g., of importance to cancer development), although they confirm that lactation is the most important elimination route of these contaminants in women.

Article information

Article type
12 Jul 2001
09 Oct 2001
First published
30 Nov 2001

J. Environ. Monit., 2002,4, 175-181

Fish consumption and plasma levels of organochlorines in a female population in Northern Norway

A. Furberg, T. Sandanger, I. Thune, I. C. Burkow and E. Lund, J. Environ. Monit., 2002, 4, 175 DOI: 10.1039/B106207G

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