Influence of the method of production of eggs on the daily intake of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and organochlorine contaminants: an independent study in the Canary Islands (Spain)

Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Oct:60:455-62. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.08.003. Epub 2013 Aug 11.


Analysis of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 20 organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and 18 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were performed on eggs from three different production types (conventional, free-run and organic) collected from the markets of the Canary Islands (Spain). Unlike other studies we did not found differences in the content of PCBs or OCPs of eggs in relation to its production type. Median ∑OCPs content was 3.87 ng g⁻¹ fat, being dieldrin, dicofol, hexachlorobenzene, p,p'-DDE and p,p'-DDT the most frequently detected. Median ∑PCBs value was 3.93 ng g⁻¹ fat, with 79.9% of this amount coming from the marker PCBs. Two samples, one free-run and one organic, greatly exceeded the current European Commission (EC) limit of 2.5 pg TEQ(PCDD/F) g⁻¹ lipid, but the rest were well below of this limit. The concentrations of PAHs in conventionally produced eggs were almost 4 times higher than in free-run or organic eggs. Mean dietary intake estimates of the organochlorine contaminants based on consumption of eggs, regardless of the type chosen, is negligible for the Canary Islands' population. However, the median dietary intake estimates of PAHs greatly depend on the type of eggs chosen, being much lower when free-run and organic eggs are consumed.

Keywords: Hen eggs; Organic eggs; Organochlorine pesticides; Polychlorinated biphenyls; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • DDT / analysis
  • Eggs / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Hexachlorobenzene / analysis
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Pesticides / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Quality Control
  • Spain


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • DDT
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls