Mortality after exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and dibenzofurans: 30 years after the "Yucheng accident"

Environ Res. 2013 Jan:120:71-5. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.09.003. Epub 2012 Sep 29.


Background: In 1979, approximately 2,000 people in central Taiwan were accidentally exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls and dibenzofurans due to ingestion of contaminated cooking oil. This event was called Yucheng, "oil-syndrome" in Chinese. We followed the exposed persons and compared their cause-specific mortality with that of neighborhood referents 30 years after the accident.

Methods: We obtained age- and gender-matched referents from the 1979 neighborhoods of the exposed people. Cause-specific mortality was compared between exposed subjects (N=1803) and their neighborhood referents (N=5170) using standardized mortality ratios (SMR). Total person-years for the Yucheng subjects and neighborhood referents were 48,751 and 141,774, respectively.

Results: The SMR for all causes (SMR=1.2, 95% CI: 1.1-1.3), diseases of the circulatory system (SMR=1.3, 95% CI: 1.0-1.6), and diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (SMR=6.4, 95% CI: 2.8-12.7) were elevated in Yucheng subjects. Among Yucheng males, the SMRs for diseases of the digestive system (SMR=1.9, 95% CI: 1.2-2.8), malignant neoplasm of stomach (SMR=3.5, 95% CI: 1.5-7.0), and malignant neoplasm of lymphatic and hematopoietic tissue (SMR=3.0, 95% CI: 1.1-6.6) were increased. The SMR for total neoplasms was increased (SMR=1.3, 95% CI: 0.9-1.7).

Conclusion: We conclude that exposure to PCBs/PCDFs at levels that produced symptoms in many affects mortality patterns 3 decades after exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Benzofurans / poisoning*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Food Contamination*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poisoning / mortality*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / poisoning*
  • Taiwan
  • Young Adult


  • Benzofurans
  • dibenzofuran
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls