No nationwide study has ever measured polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and organochlorine pesticide (OCP) body burden in Canadians aged 65 years and over. The objective of this study was to determine plasma concentrations of PCB congeners and OCPs in participants from a sub-cohort of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging and to examine the effects of socio-demographic, anthropometric and lifestyle characteristics on selected organochlorine concentrations. Archived plasma samples collected from 2023 subjects were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry using negative chemical ionization for 15 PCB congeners and 11 OCPs. Descriptive statistics were used to report PCB congeners and OCP plasma concentrations. Multivariate models were used to study whether age at blood collection, sex, education, body mass index, rural residence, geographic region, smoking status and alcohol intake influences PCB 153, the most abundant congener, and the major OCP (beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, hexachlorobenzene, trans-nonachlor, p,p'-DDE) plasma concentrations. Statistical analyses were restricted to 1979 subjects and 17 organochlorine compounds for which at least 50% of the samples had concentrations above the limit of detection. Of these, 775 were men (mean age: 82.2 years) and 1204 were women (mean age: 84.6 years). The median concentrations (ng/g lipid) of PCB 153 in the plasma of men and women were 70.9 and 75.4, respectively. The levels of the sum of PCBs and the sum of dioxin-like PCBs were 276 and 31.3 for men, and 300 and 45.5 for women, respectively. The median concentrations (ng/g lipid) of p,p'-DDE, the most abundant OCP, were 565 for men and 828 for women. All compounds were positively and significantly intercorrelated (rs=0.39-0.99; p<0.001). Except for trans-nonachlor, the multivariate models revealed that age and male sex were the determining characteristics that showed, respectively, strongly positive and negative associations with selected organochlorine concentrations. These plasma concentrations from a large population based study can be considered as baseline data for body burdens of older Canadians.
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