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Health effects and exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals in a contaminated community
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Heart and Medicine Centre, Occupational and Environmental Medicine Centre.
Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Work and Environmental Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8234-5461
2012 (English)In: Environment International, ISSN 0160-4120, E-ISSN 1873-6750, Vol. 44, 53-58 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Environmental measurements carried out by local authorities during the 1970s, 80s and 90s in an area contaminated by hundreds of years of industrial activities have revealed high levels of zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) in soil, vegetables, root crops, berries and mushrooms. In 1972, a large quantity of oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was accidentally spilled into the river running through the village. To investigate the possible health effects of exposure from local sources, all cancer diagnoses, registered in 1960-2003 for individuals living in the study area, were collected from the regional cancer register of southeast Sweden. The total cancer incidence was non-significantly decreased both among males and females as compared to national rates (SIR = 0.91) for each gender. Among males, increased risks, of border-line significance, were seen for testicular cancer and lymphomas as well as significantly decreased risks for cancer in the rectum, respiratory system and brain. Information on lifetime residence, occupation, smoking habits, diseases, childbirth and food consumption, was collected via questionnaires from cancer cases and randomly selected controls. In both genders combined, significant associations were found for total cancer and high consumption of local perch, and for lymphomas and high consumption of both perch and pikeperch. Female breast cancer was significantly associated with high consumption of local perch and pike as well as with work in metal production. Mothers residing in the parish before the age of five reported significantly more preterm child deliveries. In spite of study limitations, the results indicate that residing in a rural contaminated area may contribute to the development of certain cancers and reproductive effects. In females, high consumption of local fish was shown to be the strongest determinant for total cancer, while in males, the strongest determinant was residing in the study area the first five years of life. Further research including validation of exposure using biomarkers is required to verify the findings as well as future studies in other polluted areas in Sweden with larger population bases.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2012. Vol. 44, 53-58 p.
Keyword [en]
Contaminated area, Polychlorinated biphenyls, Heavy metals, Cancer, Reproduction
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79086DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2012.01.009ISI: 000304745900007OAI: diva2:538281

Funding Agencies|Cancer and Allergy Fund, Sweden||

Available from: 2012-06-29 Created: 2012-06-29 Last updated: 2013-09-03

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Helmfrid, IngelaWingren, Gun
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Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineFaculty of Health SciencesOccupational and Environmental Medicine CentreWork and Environmental Science
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