Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2019 Mar;222(2):327-331. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.02.001. Epub 2019 Feb 7.
BACKGROUND: Puerto Rico has over 200 hazardous waste sites, as well as higher rates of several adverse health outcomes compared to the mainland US. In response to concerns of potential links between environmental contaminant exposure and preterm birth, the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) birth cohort was formed. Biomarkers of exposure for several contaminants have been found to be elevated in this cohort compared to women of child-bearing age in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). However, exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has not been evaluated.
METHODS: In this preliminary analysis, we measured four classes of POPs, including perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and several persistent pesticides in serum samples collected at 16-20 weeks gestation from the first 48 women enrolled in PROTECT. We performed descriptive analyses for each analyte, assessed correlations between analytes using Spearman correlations, and compared serum levels in PROTECT women to levels in NHANES women aged 18-40.
RESULTS: Several PFASs were detected in 96-100% of samples, with moderate to strong correlations between most PFASs (range r = 0.44-0.88). BDE47, BDE153, PCB 138-158, PCB153 and p,p’-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene (p,p’-DDE) were detected in the majority of samples, with strong correlations between PCBs and p,p’-DDE (range r = 0.59-0.74). The median concentration for each analyte was lower than, sometimes by a factor of 4 (e.g. BDE47, p,p’-DDE), the median concentration reported in NHANES women aged 18-40.
CONCLUSION: Although participants in the ongoing PROTECT birth cohort have higher exposure to many environmental contaminants, this preliminary study suggests that they have lower exposure to several POPS, specifically PCBs, OCPs, PFASs, and PBDEs.