Increasing serum levels of non-DDT-derivative organochlorine pesticides in the younger population of the Canary Islands (Spain)

Sci Total Environ. 2006 Aug 15;367(1):129-38. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.01.027. Epub 2006 Mar 31.


Organochlorine pesticides are a lipophilic class of chemicals that persist in the environment and tend to accumulate in human tissues for years. They came into widespread use in the late 1940s. Because of their capacity to bioaccumulate and biomagnify in food chains and their toxic effects, most of them were banned in industrialized countries, among them Spain, in the late 1970s and 1980s. In 1998 organochlorine pesticides were determined in a representative sample of a Spanish population (around 690 serum samples from people 6 to 75years old from the Canary Islands). Serum levels of lindane aldrin, dieldrin and endrin, were determined. Our results showed that a high percentage of samples presented detectable levels of some of the organochlorines measured, endrin being the most frequently detected (72%) and at highest concentration (mean 136.7ng/g fat). Mean concentrations of the main cyclodiene evaluated, dieldrin, was lower to those found in other Western populations. However, serum levels of lindane were higher than those described in North European populations. Influence of geographical and sociodemographic factors was evaluated. Urban populations showed the highest levels of dieldrin, while non-urban population showed the highest serum values of lindane, aldrin and endrin. Unexpectedly, serum values of lindane, aldrin and dieldrin were higher in younger than in older people. Subjects under 18years showed almost twice as high serum levels of lindane, aldrin and dieldrin than subjects of 65-75years. These results may well suggest that people living in the Canary Islands have been and are currently exposed to non-DDT-organochlorine pesticides. The type and source of exposure could vary between islands and type of habitat. Contaminated food and/or the environment could be related with this situation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / blood*
  • Child
  • DDT / blood
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Spain


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • DDT