Background: Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) are highly toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which can cause various health outcomes, such as cancer. As a part of the National and Sub-national Burden of Disease Study (NASBOD), we aimed to estimate dioxins and furans national emissions, identify their main sources, estimate daily intake doses, and assess their trend from 1990-2010 in Iran.
Methods: The Toolkit for Identification and Quantification of Releases of Dioxins, Furans and Other Unintentional POPs, which is developed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP 2013), was used to estimate the emissions of PCDD/PCDFs from several sources into the air, water, land, residue, and other products. The daily intake doses were estimated using a linear regression of estimated emissions by UNEP Toolkit and average intake doses in other countries. Finally, the trend of PCDD/PCDFs emissions and daily intake doses were explored from 1990-2010.
Results: The total emissions were estimated as 960 g Toxic Equivalents (g TEQ) for 1990 and 1957 g TEQ for 2010 (18.2 and 26.8 g TEQ per million capita, respectively). The estimations suggest that albeit contribution of open burning to PCDD/PCDFs emissions has been declining from 1990 to 2010, it remained the major source of emissions in Iran contributing to about 45.8% out of total emissions in 1990 to 35.7% in 2010. We further found that PCDD/PCDFs are mostly emitted into the ambient air, followed by residue, land, products, and water. The daily intake doses were estimated to be 3.1 and 5.4 pg TEQ/kg bw/day for 1990 and 2010, respectively. We estimated an increasing trend for PCDD/PCDFs emissions and intake doses in Iran from 1990-2010.
Conclusions: The high levels of emissions, intake doses, and their increasing trend in Iran may pose a substantial health risk to the Iranian population. Further studies with more rigorous methods are recommended but this should not circumvent taking appropriate policy actions against these pollutants. Currently, Iran has no standard for dioxins and furans. Adaptation of the World Health Organization recommended guidelines might be an appropriate starting point to control dioxins and furans emissions.
Keywords: Dioxins; Furans; Intake dose; Iran; PCDD/PCDFs; UNEP toolkit.