Dioxins and PCBs in game animals: Interspecies comparison and related consumer exposure

Environ Int. 2016 Apr-May;89-90:21-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.01.007. Epub 2016 Jan 27.


Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (DL-PCB) and non-dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (NDL-PCB) are ubiquitous, persistent toxic compounds that are highly bioaccumulative in nature. Wild-living animals are vulnerable to the negative impacts of human activity. Dioxins and PCBs enter the animal organisms through foraging. Due to the toxicological threat, much attention is paid to these compounds worldwide. The aim of this study was to determine the dioxin contamination status of three game animal species (red deer, roe deer, and wild boar) and compare the PCDD/F and PCB congener bioaccumulation in the muscles, abdominal fat and liver. The chemical analysis was performed by the isotope dilution technique (IDMS) with high-resolution gas chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRGC/HRMS). Dioxins and PCBs were found in specimens collected from all studied species, suggesting the presence of the test compounds in the environment of the animals. The highest concentrations were found in the livers of all animals. The toxic equivalent (TEQ) levels in the muscles, adipose tissue and liver were in the order red deer > roe deer > wild boar. PCDD/Fs were the dominant congeners in TEQ value. For all tested species, the dominant contributors to the total WHO-TEQ were PCB-126, 2,3,4,7,8-PeCDF and 1,2,3,7,8-PeCDD. Among the PCDD/F congeners in the deer tissues, OCDD, OCDF and 2,3,4,7,8-PeCDF were dominant, while in wild boar, OCDD, 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDD and 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCF occurred in the highest amounts. Among PCBs, PCB-105, 118, 156, 138, 153 and 180 were dominant in all species, but with different levels. The regular consumption of muscle meat from game animals should not cause unacceptable dioxin intake above the Tolerable Weekly Intake (TWI) value for children and adults. However, liver consumption should be avoided, especially by children and pregnant or lactating women. High consumption of contaminated liver may cause dioxin intake at levels up to 300% of TWI for adults and up to 700% TWI for children.

Keywords: Contamination; Dioxins; Game animals; PCBs; Risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Benzofurans / analysis
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Deer*
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Dioxins / analysis*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / chemistry
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analogs & derivatives
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Sus scrofa*


  • Benzofurans
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Dioxins
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls