Exposure to priority organochlorine contaminants in the Italian general population. Part 1. Eight priority organochlorinated pesticides in blood serum

E. J. Mrema, F. M. Rubino, S. Mandic-Rajcevic, E. Sturchio, R. Turci, A. Osculati, G. Brambilla, C. Minoia, C. Colosio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite extensive use of organochlorinated pesticides (OCPs) such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in Italy in the 1940s to 1970s, especially for public health control ofmalariamosquitoes, information on their exposure levels among the general population is limited. TheseOCPs can be a source of health risk to human. A total of 137 blood sampleswere collected fromresidents of the general population of three Italian towns,Novafeltria, Pavia and Milan, to determine the levels of eightOCPs in blood serum. The concentrations of beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), 1,1-dichloro-2-(o- chlorophenyl)-2-(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene, 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis (p-chlorophenyl)-ethylene (p,p'-DDE), 1,1-dichloro-2-(o-chlorophenyl)-2-(p- chlorophenyl)ethane, 1,1-dichloro- 2,2-bis (4-chlorophenyl)ethane, 1,1,1-trichloro-2-(o-chlorophenyl)-2-(p-chlorophenyl)-ethane and 1,1,1-trichloro- 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl) ethane were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Variations in serum concentrations of OCPs with respect to place of residence, gender, age and body mass index (BMI) were evaluated by non-parametric tests. p,p'-DDE and HCB were the most abundant and major contributors of total OCP concentration. Their levels differed significantly between the three towns with a trend Milan > Novafeltria > Pavia ( p <0.0001). Females had significantly higher concentrations of HCB and p,p'-DDE than males in the overall population sample.HCB concentrations were significantly higher in females than in males ofMilan (p=0.029).We observed positive correlations of p,p'-DDE and HCB with age in Novafeltria subjects (r = 0.468, p = 0.004). Total OCP concentrations differed significantly across BMI categories (p = 0.018) in overall population. We have demonstrated a clear pattern of themainOCPs in a fairly large population. Generally, our study provides information on OCPs exposure among the Italian general population and provides indications for further investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1339
Number of pages17
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • DDE
  • DDT
  • Exposure
  • HCB
  • HCH
  • Organochlorinated pesticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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