Analysis of hydroxylated metabolites of PCBs (OH-PCBs) and other chlorinated phenolic compounds in whole blood from Canadian inuit

Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Jul;108(7):611-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.00108611.


In this study, we identified the main hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (OH-PCBs) and other chlorinated phenolic compounds and we determined their relative concentrations in whole blood from 13 male and 17 female Inuit from northern Quebec, Canada, and from a pooled whole blood sample from southern Quebec. We also determined concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Total OH-PCB concentrations were variable among the Inuit samples, ranging over 2 orders of magnitude (0.117-11.6 ng/g whole blood wet weight). These concentrations were equal to and up to 70 times those found for the southern Quebec pooled whole blood sample. Geometric mean concentrations of total OH-PCBs were 1.73 and 1.01 ng/g whole blood for Inuit men and women, respectively, and 0.161 ng/g whole blood for the southern population pool. There are limited data available for comparison, but the levels of OH-PCBs in Inuit are higher than those previously reported in the literature for other populations. There was a significant correlation (p < 0.005) between OH-PCBs and PCBs (r = 0.84) and both correlated significantly (p < 0.005) with age (r = 0.68 and 0.78, respectively). The ratio of OH-PCBs to PCBs was lower in Inuit (0.11) than in the southern Quebec pool (0.33). There is no apparent explanation for the difference. There was considerable variability in the congener pattern of the identified OH-PCBs. The main metabolite, 4-OH-CB109 (4-OH-2,3,3',4', 5-pentachlorobiphenyl), constituted 12-62% of the total OH-PCBs in the samples. Pentachlorophenol (PCP) was the dominant phenolic compound in blood, constituting 46% (geometric mean) of the total quantitated chlorinated phenolic compounds. PCP concentrations in Inuit blood ranged from 0.558 to 7.77 ng/g on a wet weight basis. All but two Inuit samples had lower concentrations than the southern Quebec pool (6.29 ng/g). The possible role of OH-PCBs in mediating PCB-induced adverse effects needs to be investigated further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Indians, North American*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Reference Values


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls