A worldwide survey of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, and related contaminants in butter

Ambio. 2005 Dec;34(8):589-97. doi: 10.1639/0044-7447(2005)034[0589:awsopd]2.0.co;2.


The main source of human exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is, in general, food. In this study, 64 butter samples from 37 countries were analyzed to assess the global contamination of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), dibenzofurans (PCDFs), biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and 2,2-bis (4-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (DDT) together with its major metabolites. The objectives of the study were to assess the presence of major organohalogen contaminants in butter, to trace geographical differences, and to determine toxic equivalents (TEQs) of PCDDs/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs in butter. The highest PCDD/F concentrations were found in butter from Korea with an average of 1.4 pg TEQ g(-1) lipid weight (l.w.). from PCDD/F and an additional contribution from the non- and mono-ortho-PCBs of 0.55 pg TEQ g(-1) l.w. Belgian butter showed average levels of 0.53 and 1.2 pg TEQ g(-1) l.w. for PCDDs/Fs and PCBs, respectively, but one sample of Belgium butter had a total TEQ level as high as 4.0 pg TEQ g(-1) l.w. Three out of five butter samples from Portugal showed similarly high PCDD/F TEQ levels. The sigmaPCB levels in European butter appeared to be somewhat higher than in the samples from the rest of the world. The average contribution of CB-153 to the total PCB concentration was 22% (SD 6.4, coefficient of variation 29%). Generally, the PCBs contributed around 60% of the total TEQ value, with CB-126 contributing approximately half of this value. This shows the important TEQ contribution from dioxinlike PCBs to the total TEQs. The highest HCB levels were found in butter samples from Russia, Ukraine, Belgium, and Slovenia. Low levels of HCB in butter were generally found in the Southern Hemisphere. Butter samples from countries from Eastern Europe had elevated sigmaDDT concentrations, with a particularly high concentration in Ukraine butter, followed by some Russian samples, Brazil, and the U.S.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzofurans / analysis*
  • Butter*
  • DDT / analysis
  • DDT / metabolism
  • Data Collection
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Food Contamination*
  • Hexachlorobenzene / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analogs & derivatives*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analysis
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*


  • Benzofurans
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Butter
  • DDT
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls