The association of peripubertal serum concentrations of organochlorine chemicals and blood lead with growth and pubertal development in a longitudinal cohort of boys: a review of published results from the Russian Children's Study

Rev Environ Health. 2017 Mar 1;32(1-2):83-92. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2016-0052.


Organochlorine chemicals and lead are environmental exposures that have endocrine disrupting properties (EDCs) which interfere with many aspects of hormone action. Childhood and adolescence are windows of susceptibility for adverse health effects of EDCs. Our ongoing study, the Russian Children's Study (RCS), is one of the few longitudinal studies investigating the impact of EDCs on growth and puberty in boys. It is conducted in the historically contaminated city of Chapaevsk, in the Samara region. The study focuses on evaluating the associations of persistent organochlorine chemicals and lead with growth and pubertal timing. At enrollment in 2003-2005, we collected blood from 516 boys at ages 8-9 years to measure dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated pesticides and lead. At enrollment and at annual visits through the ages of 18-19 years, a physician performed physical examinations that included pubertal staging and testicular volume measurements. We review the history of Chapaevsk as a research site and summarize published RCS data on the association of peripubertal serum concentrations of organochlorines and blood lead levels with growth, pubertal onset and sexual maturity. Overall, we found that persistent organochlorines and lead negatively affected growth during puberty. Our results also suggest that total toxic equivalents (TEQs), dioxin-like compounds, organochlorine pesticides and lead may delay, while nondioxin-like-PCBs may advance, the timing of male puberty. These findings promoted remediation programs in Chapaevsk, with improvement in health indicators, resulting in Chapaevsk being designated a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) network "Healthy Cities" in 2015.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Dioxins and Dioxin-like Compounds / blood
  • Endocrine Disruptors / blood*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Furans / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood
  • Lead / blood*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Russia
  • Sexual Maturation / drug effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Dioxins and Dioxin-like Compounds
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Furans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Lead