News
7/10/2016

IMIM: More than 10% of the US population has high concentrations of 10 or more persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

IMIM: More than 10% of the US population has high concentrations of 10 or more persistent organic pollutants (POPs)


News from IMIM


A study led by researchers at the IMIM has analysed the number of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) detected at high concentrations in the population of the US and found relationships with socioeconomic factors, including gender, race, body mass index, education and poverty. More than 10% of the US population has 10 or more POPs, each and all of them at a 'top 10' concentration; that is, at a concentration above the 90th. percentile.

POPs are a group of chemical contaminants that humans can barely excrete and that degrade very slowly, therefore accumulating in our bodies and environment. Most POPs have been used as pesticides or are industrial residues. Normally, the 'internal contamination' (within a person's body) by these chemicals is evaluated by checking for each pollutant separately. However, Miquel Porta, José Pumarega and colleagues at IMIM realised that nobody was looking at all POPs combined in the body of each individual person and, therefore, no-one had checked the assumption that the vast majority of the population had low levels of all POPs. The assumption turned out to be untrue.

The 'simple change' made by the researchers was to stop focusing on each POP separately and to focus on all POPs detected in each individual. And they thus discovered that the majority of individuals had at least one POP at high concentrations. They also discovered that a significant minority had several POPs each at high concentrations. In fact, 13% of the US population has 10 or more POPs at high concentrations; i.e., each POP is in a ‘top 10’ concentration(that is, at a concentration above the 90th. percentile).

Reference article:
Number of Persistent Organic Pollutants Detected at High Concentrations in Blood Samples of the United States Population”. José Pumarega, Magda Gasull, Duk-Hee Lee, Tomàs López, Miquel Porta. Journal PLoS One