Identification of hydroxylated PCB metabolites and other phenolic halogenated pollutants in human blood plasma

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2002 Jan;42(1):105-17. doi: 10.1007/s002440010298.


A growing number of studies have reported phenolic halogenated compounds (PHCs) that are retained in the blood of humans and wildlife. These PHCs may be industrial chemicals; metabolites thereof, as in the case with polychlorobiphenylols (OH-PCBs); or of natural origin. The present study was aimed to identify hitherto unknown PHCs in human plasma with chemical structures that are consistent to PHCs known to possess endocrine-disrupting activity. For this purpose, samples of blood plasma from 10 randomly selected male blood donors from Sweden were pooled and analyzed by GC/ECD and GC/MS. Brominated, bromochlorinated, and chlorinated methyl derivatives of phenols and OH-PCBs were synthesized to be used as authentic reference standards. More than 100 PHCs were indicated in the plasma, and among those a total of 9 monocyclic brominated or chlorinated phenol-, guaiacol-, and/or catechol-type compounds were identified as their methylated derivatives. The two major compounds were 2,4,6-tribromophenol and pentachlorophenol. Thirty-eight OH-PCB congeners were structurally identified on two GC columns of different polarity. The origin of the OH-PCB metabolites in the context of their parent PCB congeners are suggested. Other PHCs identified in the male plasma were Triclosan (5-chloro-2-[2,4-dichlorophenoxy] phenol), a common bactericide; 4-hydroxy-heptachlorostyrene, a metabolite of octachlorostyrene; and 3,5-dibromo-2-(2,4-dibromophenoxy)phenol, a natural compound and a potential metabolite of polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Endocrine System / drug effects
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenols / blood*
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phenols
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls