Concentration of selected persistent organic pollutants in blood from delivering women in South Africa☆
Environmental exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may cause detrimental health effects in the population with the developing foetus and infants being at highest risk. This paper reports on the findings of the pilot study that took place in seven geographical regions of South Africa, 96 pregnant women admitted for delivery participated in the study. The following selected POPs were analysed in maternal plasma: 15 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) congeners (IUPAC No. 28, 52, 99, 101, 105, 118, 138, 149, 153, 156, 170, 180, 183, 187, 194); six DDT metabolites (dichlordiphenyltrichloroethane p,p' -DDT and o,p' -DDT; diphenyldichloroethylene p,p' -DDE and o,p' -DDE, dichlorophenylethane p,p' -DDD o,p' -DDD) and other pesticides such as hexachlorocyclohexanes (α-HCH, β-HCH, γ-HCH), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), heptachlor, chlordanes (t-CD and c-CD), nanochlors (t-NC and c-NC) and mirex. The overall results showed large regional differences with the rural site having the lowest levels for all measured contaminants. The levels of PCB congeners were found to be low in all samples and across all sites. DDT metabolites were detected in most participants of this study and large regional differences were evident. Two malaria endemic sites, where indoor residual spraying (IRS) with DDT takes place to control malaria vector, were included in the study. The highest levels of DDTs were measured in the coastal malaria site (Indian Ocean) with geometric means of 5177 ng/g lipid and 1797 ng/g lipid for p,p' -DDE and p,p' -DDT, and 1966 ng/g lipid and 726 ng/g lipid for p,p' -DDE and p,p' -DDT in inland malaria site. γ-HCH was found to be elevated overall, except for the urban community; the highest levels were measured in the inland and coastal malaria sites. p,p' -DDT and γ-HCH were however not correlated, indicating different sources. The high DDT levels in the malaria spraying regions as well as the elevated γ-HCH levels are of concern and call for extended monitoring of women and children in selected regions.