Regional variation in pesticide concentrations in plasma of delivering women residing in rural Indian Ocean coastal regions of South Africa†
Exposure to pesticides places pregnant women and the developing foetus at the highest risk. The objective of this study is to obtain an exposure assessment by investigating levels of pesticides in blood plasma of delivering women. We report on the concentrations of α, β, γ HCH, endosulfan, HCB and the pyrethroids: cis-permethrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin and deltamethrin found in the maternal blood plasma of delivering women (n = 241) in three coastal sites of KwaZulu Natal. γ-HCH and endosulfan 1 and 2 were the most dominant pesticides in all three sites. Significantly, higher levels of γ-HCH and endosulfan were found in site 3 (vicinity of Empangeni) compared to the other two sites (p < 0.05). The GM levels for γ-HCH, endosulfan 1 and 2 were 956, 141 and 21 ng g−1 lipids in site 3, respectively. The pyrethroid pesticides, HCB, α-HCH and β-HCH were detected in less than 31% of the samples in all sites. γ-HCH correlated positively and strongly to both endosulfan 1 and 2 (r > 0.47), indicating a common source of exposure. The high levels of γ-HCH and endosulfan in maternal plasma samples in site 3 indicate the current and on-going exposure, which is of great concern for reproductive health and prenatal exposure.