Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (p,p'-DDE), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) continues to be of concern due to their ubiquitous distribution and high persistence. Current toxicant body burden is still a primary concern within the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation since other studies conducted within the community have shown relationships between these POPs and endocrine disruption. In this article we describe the levels of these toxicants in young adults of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation between the ages of 17 and 21 years of age (mean age 18.1 years), and investigate potential influences of their current body burden. Seventeen congeners in fourteen chromatographic peaks were detected in 50% or more of the individuals sampled (geometric mean [GM] of the sum of these congeners=0.43 ppb). Congeners 118, 138[+163+164] and 153 had the highest rate of detection (≥98%) within the Akwesasne young adults. Of the other organochlorines, HCB (GM=0.04 ppb) and p,p'-DDE (GM=0.38 ppb) were found in 100% and 99% of the sample respectively. Significantly higher levels of PCBs were found among individuals who were breastfed as infants, were first born, or had consumed local fish within the past year. When compared to levels of p,p'-DDE, HCB, and 13 specific congeners reported by the CDC for youth between the ages of 12 and 19 years, the geometric means of several congeners (CBs 99, 105, 110, and 118) among the Akwesasne were higher than the reported CDC 90th percentile. In contrast, levels of CB 28 in Akwesasne young adults were ~50% or less than those of the CDC cohort. p,p'-DDE and HCB levels were generally higher in the CDC cohort (GM of 0.516 and 0.065 ppb, respectively for Mohawks vs. 2.51 and 0.123, respectively, for CDC). Concentrations of non-persistent PCBs among this sample of Akwesasne young adults were higher than those reported by the CDC suggesting continued exposure, but lower than those associated with severe contamination. Additional research into the concentration trends of individual PCB congeners within Akwesasne youth and young adults is warranted to further improve our insight into the determinants and influences of organochlorine concentrations within members of the Akwesasne community.
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