PCDDs, PCDFs, and PCBs in human blood in relation to consumption of crabs from a contaminated Fjord area in Norway

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Jul;104(7):756-64. doi: 10.1289/ehp.96104756.


Consumption of fish and shellfish from contaminated areas may be an important source of human exposure to persistent organohalogen compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs). We determined concentrations of 2,3,7,8-substituted PCDDs and PCDFs and 19 PCB congeners in whole blood samples from three groups of men, 40-54 years of age, with different consumption levels of crabs from a fjord area in southern Norway polluted with organochlorine compounds from a magnesium production plant. A significant increase of many PCDD/PCDF congeners was found in the blood when comparing the referents, moderate-, and high-intake groups. The greatest difference was observed for several of the PCDFs that are characteristic for the contamination of the marine biota of the fjord. PCBs, in general, play a minor role in the contamination of the fjord by the magnesium production process, except for the highly chlorinated congeners such as PCB-209. Nevertheless, almost all PCBs increased from the referents to the high-intake group. However, the relative concentrations of several highly chlorinated PCBs (particularly PCB-209) in blood are unexpectedly low compared to their abundance in crabs, indicating low uptake of these congeners. The exposure to PCDDs/PCDFs from crab consumption calculated from individual body burdens of these compounds were in good agreement with the intake estimated from previously measured concentrations in crabs, reported fishing sites, and consumption. Almost all subjects in the high-intake group exceeded the tolerable weekly intake of 35 pg TEQ/kg body weight/week proposed by a Nordic Expert Group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Benzofurans / blood
  • Body Burden
  • Brachyura / chemistry*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Food Contamination*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Pesticide Residues / blood*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analogs & derivatives
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / blood
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / blood*


  • Benzofurans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls