Pesticide exposure of two age groups of women and its relationship with their diet

Sci Total Environ. 2007 Aug 15;382(1):14-21. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.03.032. Epub 2007 May 2.


The widespread presence of organochlorine (OC) pesticides in human samples may be explained by the environmental exposure of the population. Foods are considered a constant source of exposure, despite compliance with maximum permitted residue levels. This study aimed to examine the relationship between nutritional habits of women in Southeast Spain and their serum concentrations of OCs. A semi-quantitative questionnaire was used to estimate the frequency of consumption of foods by two age groups of women, pre-menopausal (Pre-M) and post-menopausal (Post-M), and their serum pesticide levels were measured by gas chromatography (GC) with electron capture detector and confirmed by GC and mass spectrometry. The Pre-M group showed significantly higher serum concentrations of all OCs studied with the exception of DDE. The groups significantly differed in consumption of all food groups with the exception of fruit. In the Pre-M group, the mean serum p,p-DDT concentration was significantly associated with milk/yoghurt (p<0.045) and red meat (p<0.023), serum o,p-DDT with red meat (p<0.049), serum aldrin with eggs (p<0.038) and poultry (p<0.024), and serum DDE with eggs (p<0.025). In the Post-M group, serum lindane was associated with fresh and cured cheese (p<0.001), red meat (p<0.001) and white and oily fish (p<0.001), and both serum DDE and dieldrin were associated with fresh cheese, cured cheese, red meat, and white and oily fish (p<0.001). These results confirm foods as a source of human exposure to persistent organic molecules. Consideration should be given to the reduction of permitted residue levels to minimize this threat to human and animal health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diet*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Spain


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides