Public health concern behind the exposure to persistent organic pollutants and the risk of metabolic diseases

BMC Public Health. 2012 Apr 20;12:298. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-298.


Background: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are hazardous chemicals omnipresent in our food chain, which have been internationally regulated to ensure public health. Initially described for their potency to affect reproduction and promote cancer, recent studies have highlighted an unexpected implication of POPs in the development of metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity. Based on this novel knowledge, this article aims at stimulating discussion and evaluating the effectiveness of current POP legislation to protect humans against the risk of metabolic diseases. Furthermore, the regulation of POPs in animal food products in the European Union (EU) is addressed, with a special focus on marine food since it may represent a major source of POP exposure to humans.

Discussion: There is mounting scientific evidence showing that current POP risk assessment and regulation cannot effectively protect humans against metabolic disorders. Better regulatory control of POPs in dietary products should be of high public health priority.

Summary: The general population is exposed to sufficient POPs, both in term of concentration and diversity, to induce metabolic disorders. This situation should attract the greatest attention from the public health and governmental authorities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Environmental Exposure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • European Union
  • Female
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Contamination / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Food Supply / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Food Supply / standards
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Organic Chemicals / analysis*
  • Pesticides / blood
  • Pesticides / isolation & purification
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Seafood / standards


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Pesticides
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Glucose