Level, sources and toxicity of polychlorinated biphenyls in the Italian diet

E. Zuccato, S. Calvarese, G. Mariani, S. Mangiapan, P. Grasso, A. Guzzi, R. Fanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We used the duplicate portion method to measure the daily dietary intake of total and congener-specific polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and to assess their potential toxicity in a group of 20 subjects consuming a typical Italian diet. The mean ± SD intake of total PCB, measured by GC-MS, was 3.72 ± 1.51 μg/person/day, comparable to values reported in similar studies world-wide, with individual intakes varying within one order of magnitude, from 0.97 to 10.59 μg/person/day. The di-ortho congeners 153, 18 and 138 were the PCB found in the highest concentrations (respectively 13.8%, 11.4% and 10.9% of the total) while the non-ortho coplanar congeners (77, 126 and 169) amounted to 0.5% of the total. The corresponding levels of toxicity (TCDD-like TEQ values ascribable to PCB) ranged from 4.6 up to 119 pg/person/day of TCDD-equivalents in 18 subjects, i.e. presumed no-risk levels, but with peaks of 2109 and 4553 pg/person/day in two subjects with significant intakes of the congener 126. Principal components analysis and redundancy analysis showed dairy products, meal and fish were the principal sources of PCB, and vegetables those with the highest toxicity index in the Italian diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2753-2765
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - May 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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