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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DIOXINS AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINANTS IN FOOD

Location: Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research

Title: Historic and newer persistent organic pollutants in food

Author
item Huwe, Janice

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 13, 2011
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Citation: Huwe, J.K. 2012. Historic and newer persistent organic pollutants in food. In: Schecter, A., editor. Dioxins and Health: Including Other Persistent Organic Pollutants and Endocrine Disruptors. Third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 53-88.

Interpretive Summary: This book chapter summarizes information from more than 80 recent scientific papers and 5 government websites regarding the concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in foods. The POPs reviewed in this chapter include environmental contaminants such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, industrial chemicals used as flame retardants and non-stick coatings, and the pesticide DDT. A wide variety of foods from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia have been analyzed for these contaminants and, in general, are found to contain low levels. A comparison of the different food groups shows that fish and animal products generally contain higher concentrations of these contaminants than plant-based foods. Certain regions of the world appear to have higher residue levels in foods due to local environmental contamination. Examples include fish from waters near industrial and heavily populated areas, backyard or free-range animals and eggs from certain parts of Europe or near BFR recycling sites in China, and fish or animal products from developing countries were the use of DDT may still be occurring. Ultimately, the concentrations of POPs in foods are used to estimate human dietary exposure to these contaminants and, based on the summarize data, show rather uniform dietary intake of these POPs in developed countries.

Technical Abstract: This book chapter reviews the literature published over the past five years with regard to the concentrations of historic and newly-listed persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in foods. The chemical classes selected for this review include historic POPs (dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, and DDT) and more recent POPs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, hexabromocyclododecane, and perfluoroctane sulfonic acid). A wide variety of foods from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia have been analyzed for these POPs. Comparisons of POPs levels between food groups show that fish and animal products generally contain higher concentrations of these contaminants than plant-based foods. Certain regions of the world have higher residue levels of POPs in foods due to local environmental contamination. Examples include fish from waters near industrial and heavily populated areas, backyard or free-range animals and eggs from certain parts of Europe or near BFR recycling sites in China, and marine and animal products from developing countries were the use of DDT may still be occurring. Ultimately, the concentrations of POPs in foods are used to estimate human dietary exposure to these contaminants and, based on the summarize data, show rather uniform dietary intake of these POPs in developed countries.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014
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