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Population Exposure to a Persistent Organic Pollutant (β-HCH) Following Waste Disposal from a Chemical Plant (Sacco River Valley, Italy)

Porta, Daniela*; De Felip, Elena; Fantini, Fiorella; Blasetti, Francesco; Abballe, Annalisa; Dell'Orco, Valerio; di Domenico, Alessandro; Fano, Valeria§; Ingelido, Anna Maria; Perucci, Carlo Alberto*

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000362267.24832.0d
Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Oral Presentations

*Department of Epidemiology, Local Health Authority RME, Rome, Italy; †Department of the Environment and Primary Prevention, National Institute for Health, Rome, Italy; ‡Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Local Health Authority RMG, Colleferro, Rome, Italy; and §Local Health Authority RMD, Rome, Italy.

Abstracts published in Epidemiology have been reviewed by the organizations of Epidemiology. Affliate Societies at whose meetings the abstracts have been accepted for presentation. These abstracts have not undergone review by the Editorial Board of Epidemiology.


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Background and Objective:

A chemical plant that manufactures chemicals and pesticides has been operating since the 1950's in the Sacco River Valley (Central Italy). In 2005, high beta-hexachlorocycloexane (ß-HCH) concentrations were found in bovine milk of animals bred in the area along the river south of the facility. The objective of the study was to evaluate contamination levels of the population living in the area.

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We defined four residential areas by the distance from the facility and the river, and a random population sample (age 25-64 years) was chosen. Blood samples were taken to analyze a,ß,g-HCH, and other pollutants (HCB, NDL-PCBs, DL-PCBs, p,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDE). We evaluated the association between the area of residence, other potential determinants (sex, age, local food products, well water) and the pollutant serum concentrations using multivariate linear regression models. The results are expressed as geometric mean ratios (GMR) and 95%CI.

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246 serum samples were analysed. ß-HCH mean concentration was 99.0 ng/g lipid ± 121.3 (GM:60.6). There was a strong association between ß-HCH and residence in the area within 1 km of the river (GMR:2.46, 95CI%:1.46-3.16). ß-HCH was also associated with age, use of water from private wells (GMR:1.47 95CI%:1.12-4.94) and consumption of local food products (GMR:1.33, 95CI%:0.99-1.79). When the analysis was restricted to 106 people living along the river, the association between ß-HCH and consumption of locally produced food (GMR:1.91, 95CI%:1.05-3.48) and privately produced food was even stronger (GMR:2.62, 95%CI:1.42-4.85). No association with the area of residence was found for the other pollutants.

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These results suggest that chemicals disposed as waste did contaminate the river and the surrounding soil. Population groups living close to the river have high ß-HCH levels, most likely due to consuming dairy products and meats from contaminated animals.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.