Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are a huge group of chemicals that have been linked to various adverse health effects in humans. Large epidemiological studies investigating gender differences in levels of POPs in the elderly are limited and the results from these are not always consistent. The present study was undertaken to examine the background levels of a broad range of POPs in human plasma samples among elderly men and women from Sweden and to assess the influence of gender. Levels of 23 POPs were determined in plasma samples collected during 2001-2004 from 1016 (50.2% women) 70year-old participants from the population-based Prospective Study of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS). Measurements were performed using high resolution gas chromatography with high resolution mass spectrometry (HRGC-HRMS) and the POPs studied were 16 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), five organochlorine (OC) pesticides, one dioxin, and one brominated flame retardant. The concentrations of the selected POPs were found similar, or comparable, to other studies of non-occupationally exposed populations from Sweden and Europe. Differences in levels of POPs between men and women were assessed by using Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann-Whitney) test. Significant (p<0.0001) gender differences in levels of specific POPs were observed and a number of POP concentrations were found to differ between men and women. More specifically, levels of HCB, OCDD, and PCB congeners #74, #105, and #118 were found to be higher in women, while the rest of the majority of POPs were higher in men.
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