Diabetes Prevalence in Relation to Serum Concentrations of Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Congener Groups and Three Chlorinated Pesticides in a Native American Population

Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Sep;124(9):1376-83. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1509902. Epub 2016 Apr 1.


Background: Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is known to increase risk of diabetes.

Objective: To determine which POPs are most associated with prevalence of diabetes in 601 Akwesasne Native Americans.

Methods: Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to assess associations between quartiles of concentrations of 101 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) congeners, congener groups and three chlorinated pesticides [dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and mirex] with diabetes. In Model 1, the relationship between quartiles of exposure and diabetes were adjusted only for sex, age, body mass index (BMI), and total serum lipids. Model 2 included additional adjustment for either total PCBs or total pesticides.

Results: Total serum PCB and pesticide concentrations were each significantly associated with prevalence of diabetes when adjusted only for covariates (Model 1), but neither showed a significant OR for highest to lowest quartiles after additional adjustment for the other (Model 2). When applying Model 2 to PCB congener groups and individual pesticides, there were significant omnibus differences between the four quartiles (all ps < 0.042) for most groups, with the exception of penta- and hexachlorobiphenyls, DDE and mirex. However, when comparing highest to lowest quartiles only non- and mono-ortho PCBs [OR = 4.55 (95% CI: 1.48, 13.95)], tri- and tetrachloro PCBs [OR = 3.66 (95% CI: 1.37, -9.78)] and HCB [OR = 2.64 (95% CI: 1.05, 6.61)] showed significant associations with diabetes. Among the non- and mono-ortho congeners, highest to lowest quartile of dioxin TEQs was not significant [OR = 1.82 (95% CI: 0.61, 5.40)] but the OR for the non-dioxin-like congeners was [OR = 5.01 (95% CI: 1.76, 14.24)].

Conclusion: The associations with diabetes after adjustment for other POPs were strongest with the more volatile, non-dioxin-like, low-chlorinated PCB congeners and HCB. Because low-chlorinated congeners are more volatile, these observations suggest that inhalation of vapor-phase PCBs is an important route of exposure.

Citation: Aminov Z, Haase R, Rej R, Schymura MJ, Santiago-Rivera A, Morse G, DeCaprio A, Carpenter DO, and the Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment. 2016. Diabetes prevalence in relation to serum concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congener groups and three chlorinated pesticides in a Native American population. Environ Health Perspect 124:1376-1383; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1509902.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Indians, North American
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides