Polychlorinated biphenyls and their hydroxylated metabolites (OH-PCBs) in pregnant women from eastern Slovakia

June Soo Park, Linda Linderholm, M. Judith Charles, Maria Athanasiadou, Jan Petrik, Anton Kocan, Beata Drobna, Tomas Trnovec, Åke Bergman, Irva Hertz-Picciotto

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94 Scopus citations


Objective: Our aim in the present study was to characterize and quantify the levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and specific polychlorobiphenylol (OH-PCB) metabolites in maternal sera from women delivering in eastern Slovakia. Design: During 2002-2004, blood samples were collected from women delivering in two Slovak locations: Michalovce district, where PCBs were formerly manufactured, and Svidnik and Stropkov districts, about 70 km north. Participants: A total of 762 and 341 pregnant women were sampled from Michalovce and Svidnik/Stropkov, respectively, and OH-PCBs were measured in 131 and 31. Evaluation/Measurements: We analyzed PCBs using gas chromatography (GC)/electron capture detection. OH-PCBs and pentachlorophenol (PCP) were determined as methyl derivatives using GC-electron capture negative ionization/mass spectrometry. We characterized distributions in the full cohort using inverse sampling weights. Results: The concentrations of both PCBs and OH-PCB metabolites of Michalovce mothers were about two times higher than those of the Svidnik/Stropkov mothers (p < 0.001). The median weighted maternal serum levels of the sum of PCBs (∑PCBs) were 5.73 ng/g wet weight (Michalovce) and 2.82 ng/g wet weight (Svidnik/Stropkov). The median sum of OH-PCBs (∑OH-PCBs) was 0.55 ng/g wet weight in Michalovce mothers and 0.32 ng/ g wet weight in Svidnik/Stropkov mothers. 4-OH-2,2′,3,4′,5,5′,6-Heptachlorobiphenyl (4-OH-CB187) was a primary metabolite, followed by 4-OH-2,2′,3,4′,5,5′-hexachlorobiphenyl (4-OH-CB146). Only four PCB congeners - CBs 153, 138, 180, and 170 - had higher concentrations than 4-OH-CB187 and 4-OH-CB146 (p < 0.001). The median ratio of the ∑OH-PCBs to the ∑PCBs was 0.10. Conclusions: Mothers residing in eastern Slovakia are still highly exposed to PCBs, and their body burdens of these pollutants and OH-PCB metabolites may pose a risk for adverse effects on health for themselves and their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Hydroxylated PCB metabolites
  • Maternal blood serum
  • OH-PCBs
  • PCBs
  • PCP
  • Pentachlorophenol
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Slovakia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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