[Concentrations of persistent toxic compounds in the Spanish population: a puzzle without pieces and the protection of public health]

Gac Sanit. 2002 May-Jun;16(3):257-66. doi: 10.1016/s0213-9111(02)71671-3.
[Article in Spanish]


The contamination by persistent toxic compounds (PTCs) of the general population is a fact of relevance from a public health perspective. It is also relevant to health care professionals, as well as for environmental, food, industrial and economic policies. Though in Spain information on food contamination by PTCs shows large time and geographic gaps, the scarcity of data is even more severe on the concentrations that PTCs have in people: a representative study of a general healthy population living in a wide geographic area has never been conducted in the country. However, the available studies indicate that around 80-100% of the population has detectable concentrations of DDE, PCBs, hexachlorbenzene or lindane. Studies on the effects that PTCs have upon humans are extremely infrequent in Spain. Yet, the international literature suggests that some PTCs may induce significant biological and clinical effects at doses below those traditionally deemed "safe". The mechanism of action of PTCs are not restricted to endocrine disruption. Assessing the clinical and social relevance of the more subtle and long-term effects of PTCs presents interesting challenges and opportunities. Spain and other European countries lack population indicators on the impact that environmental processes have on human health. Several government levels have a role to fulfill in the monitoring of biological levels of PTCs among persons in order to assess the risks of adverse health effects. Along with over a hundred other countries. Spain will soon try to implement the Stockholm treaty on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). This constitutes a new opportunity to develop more efficient policies to control PTC residues in food, humans and the environment. As part of the treaty implementation it is necessary to launch a Report on factors that influence body concentrations of PTCs in the Spain general population.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Europe
  • Food Contamination
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis
  • Public Health
  • Spain
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Xenobiotics / adverse effects
  • Xenobiotics / analysis*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Xenobiotics