Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 235–246

Paradoxical increases in serum levels of highly chlorinated PCBs in aged women in clear contrast to robust decreases in dietary intakes from 1980 to 2003 in Japan

  • Akio Koizumi
  • Kouji H. Harada
  • Bita Eslami
  • Yoshinori Fujimine
  • Noriyuki Hachiya
  • Iwao Hirosawa
  • Kayoko Inoue
  • Sumiko Inoue
  • Shigeki Koda
  • Yukinori Kusaka
  • Katsuyuki Murata
  • Kazuyuki Omae
  • Norimitsu Saito
  • Shinichiro Shimbo
  • Katsunobu Takenaka
  • Tatsuya Takeshita
  • Hidemi Todoriki
  • Yasuhiko Wada
  • Takao Watanabe
  • Masayuki Ikeda
Regular Article



Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is considered to have culminated between 1950 and 1970 in Japan, and exposure through diet, the major exposure route, has decreased significantly over the last 10 years. The primary goal of the present study was to investigate the long-term trends and congener profiles of serum and dietary levels of PCBs using historical samples.


Using banked samples collected in 1980, 1995, and 2003 surveys, we determined the daily intakes and serum concentrations of 13 PCB congeners (#74, #99, #118, #138, #146, #153, #156, #163, #164, #170, #180, #182, and #187) in women.


The total daily PCB intake [ng/day, geometric mean (geometric standard deviation)] decreased significantly from 523 (2.5) in 1980 to 63 (3.2) in 2003. The serum total PCB level (ng/g lipid) in women <40 years of age decreased significantly from 185 (1.8) in 1980 to 68 (1.8) in 2003. In contrast, the level in women >50 years of age increased significantly from 125 (1.7) in 1980 to 242 (1.7) in 2003. Specifically, the serum concentrations of hexa (#138, #146, #153, #156, #163, and #164) and hepta (#170, #180, #182, and #187) congeners increased significantly. A comparison of the serum PCB levels of women born from 1940 to 1953 revealed that their serum total PCB level was significantly higher in the 2003 survey [242 (1.7), n = 9] than in the 1995 [128 (2.0), n = 17] surveys. This increase in the total PCB level was attributable to increases in the hepta congener groups.


Present results suggest a decreased rate of elimination of hepta congeners with aging in females, rather than a birth-generation phenomenon.


Polychlorinated biphenyl Congener profiles Diet Serum Aging Decrease in metabolism 


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society for Hygiene 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akio Koizumi
    • 1
  • Kouji H. Harada
    • 1
  • Bita Eslami
    • 1
  • Yoshinori Fujimine
    • 2
  • Noriyuki Hachiya
    • 3
  • Iwao Hirosawa
    • 4
  • Kayoko Inoue
    • 1
  • Sumiko Inoue
    • 1
  • Shigeki Koda
    • 5
  • Yukinori Kusaka
    • 6
  • Katsuyuki Murata
    • 7
  • Kazuyuki Omae
    • 8
  • Norimitsu Saito
    • 9
  • Shinichiro Shimbo
    • 10
  • Katsunobu Takenaka
    • 11
  • Tatsuya Takeshita
    • 12
  • Hidemi Todoriki
    • 13
  • Yasuhiko Wada
    • 14
  • Takao Watanabe
    • 15
  • Masayuki Ikeda
    • 16
  1. 1.Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of MedicineKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company LtdTokushimaJapan
  3. 3.National Institute for Minamata DiseaseMinamataJapan
  4. 4.Kansai University of Welfare SciencesOsakaJapan
  5. 5.National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, JapanKawasakiJapan
  6. 6.School of MedicineUniversity of FukuiMatsuokaJapan
  7. 7.Akita University School of MedicineAkitaJapan
  8. 8.School of MedicineKeio UniversityTokyoJapan
  9. 9.Research Institute for Environmental Sciences and Public Health of Iwate PrefectureMoriokaJapan
  10. 10.Kyoto Women’s UniversityKyotoJapan
  11. 11.Takayama Red Cross HospitalTakayamaJapan
  12. 12.Wakayama Medical UniversityWakayamaJapan
  13. 13.School of MedicineUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  14. 14.Japan Labour Health and Welfare OrganizationKansai Rosai HospitalAmagasakiJapan
  15. 15.Miyagi University of EducationSendaiJapan
  16. 16.Kyoto Industrial Health AssociationKyotoJapan

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