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Background: Hexachlorocyclohexane is a synthetic chemical with several isomers, including β-Hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH). In 2005, a large contamination of crude milk from some bovine farms along the Sacco River (Central Italy) was detected; it was related to the illegal disposal of large quantities of processing waste by a chemical industry of the area. A biomonitoring study, conducted in 2007 on a sample of the residing population, found high values of β-HCH in people living close to the river. These results led to the establishment of a clinical and epidemiological surveillance program on all the exposed population. The aim of the study was to evaluate the determinants of β-HCH blood levels in people living within 1 Km of the Sacco River, focusing on the role of specific foods, body mass index and risk factors not yet identified. Methods: The program involved all people living within 1 km of the river. A descriptive analysis of β-HCH blood levels was done in relation to the potential determinants including specific foods. Regression analysis was used to study the association between potential determinants and (natural log) β-HCH haematic concentration. The results were expressed as geometric mean ratios (GMR). To take into account similarities within the families we adjusted for family clustering. Results: A total of 602 subjects (87.2%) agreed to participate in the surveillance. The β-HCH geometric mean serum concentration was 72 ng/g lipid. The regression analysis showed that being female (GMR: 1.32, 95%CI: 1.14-1.53), elderly (GMR> 70yy: 10.04, 95%CI: 6.65-15.15), obese (GMR: 1.63, 95%CI: 1.28-2.08), eating food of local/own production (GMR 1.47, 95%CI: 1.15-1.88) and using water from private wells (GMRdrink:1.47, 95%CI: 1.00-2.14 and GMRwash: 1.48, 95%CI: 1.17-1.87) were associated with higher β-HCH values. There was inverse association with breastfeeding (GMR: 0.64, 95%CI: 0.47-0.86). The focus on specific foods showed that the most important factors were eggs and beef. Conclusions: The study indicated a greater contamination for older people, and those drinking and washing with water from private wells and consuming locally produced food, especially eggs and beef.
Narduzzi, S., Fantini, F., Blasetti, F., Rantakokko, P., Kiviranta, H., Forastiere, F., … Porta, D. (2020). Predictors of Beta-Hexachlorocyclohexane blood levels among people living close to a chemical plant and an illegal dumping site. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-020-0562-7