Predictors of Beta-Hexachlorocyclohexane blood levels among people living close to a chemical plant and an illegal dumping site

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Abstract

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.

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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

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