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Polychlorinated biphenyls and their hydroxylated metabolites in the serum of e-waste dismantling workers from eastern China

Abstract

A number of studies have reported on the exposure of e-waste dismantling workers to significantly high concentrations of halogenated organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Such exposure can have adverse health effects. However, little information on the metabolites of these contaminants exists. In this study, we investigated PCBs levels and their hydroxylated metabolites (OH-PCB) in the serum of e-waste workers in Taizhou in eastern China. Our results indicate elevated PCB and OH-PCB levels in the serum of the workers, with medians of 443.7 and 133.9 ng/g lw, respectively. Tri- to hexachlorinated PCB congeners were the dominant homologue groups in all of the samples. 4-OH-CB107 was the predominant homologue among the hydroxylated metabolites, accounting for 88.9% of the total OH-PCB concentrations. While dietary sources (e.g., fish) appear to be an important route for PCB accumulation in non-occupational exposure groups, exposure via ingestion of house dust and inhalation of pollutants derived from the recycling of PCB-containing e-wastes may primarily contribute to the high body burden observed in the occupational groups. Since we found concentrations of metabolites higher than those of their parent compounds, further studies need to pay more attention to their bioaccumulation and toxicity.

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Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance provided by the e-waste dismantling workers in our study. This study was supported by the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (41130752 and 41225013) and by the Special Fund for Strategic Pilot Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (B) (No. XDB14010202).

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Correspondence to Zhiqiang Yu.

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Ma, S., Ren, G., Zeng, X. et al. Polychlorinated biphenyls and their hydroxylated metabolites in the serum of e-waste dismantling workers from eastern China. Environ Geochem Health 40, 1931–1940 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-017-9958-x

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Keywords

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Hydroxylated metabolites
  • Serum
  • Biotransformation