Human biomonitoring of persistent organic pollutants in elderly people from the Canary Islands (Spain): A temporal trend analysis from the PREDIMED and PREDIMED-Plus cohorts

Sci Total Environ. 2021 Mar 1:758:143637. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143637. Epub 2020 Nov 20.


The population of the Canary Islands has been exposed to high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Biomonitoring studies are essential to know the temporal trend in residue levels, particularly of substances banned decades ago. The purpose of this study was to analyze the distribution of plasma concentrations of 59 POPs in 175 participants from the PREDIMED-Plus trial (2014-2016), and to compare them with the distribution of these POPs in 343 participants in the PREDIMED trial (2006-2009). All participants had metabolic syndrome. No difference in the distribution of age, gender or BMI was observed between trials. POPs were determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Density plots -POP Geoffrey Rose curves- were used to represent the full population distribution of each compound. Three out of 59 POPs were detected and quantified in ≥95% of the samples (p,p'-DDE, median = 694.7 ng/g lipid; HCB, median = 57.0 ng/g lipid; and β-HCH, median = 75.7 ng/g lipid). PCB congeners 138, 153 and 180 were detected in 64.6, 40.0 and 88.0% of the samples. Females showed highest concentrations of organochlorine pesticides and those subjects who lost ˃ 5 kg showed significant higher plasma concentrations of POPs. In a range of 6-14 years, plasma concentrations of POPs decreased 3.3-21.6 fold, being notable the decrease of 28.7-fold observed for HCB among women. Despite this sharp decline, levels of POPs are still higher than those reported in other regions, since one third of the subjects included in the present report had high concentration of more than three pollutants. Continuous biomonitoring studies are required to know the evolution of the levels of residues and to evaluate the effectiveness of environmental policies.

Keywords: Elderly people; Human biomonitoring; Organochlorine pesticides; Persistent organic pollutants; Polychlorinated biphenyls; Temporal trend.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biological Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated*
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Pesticides*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls*
  • Spain


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls