Environmental exposure to POPs and heavy metals in urban children from Dhaka, Bangladesh

Linda Linderholm, Kristina Jakobsson, Thomas Lundh, Rausan Zamir, Mohammad Shoeb, Nilufar Nahar, Ake Bergman

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29 Citations (SciVal)


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals are well known environmental pollutants. Even though numerous studies have been carried out to assess human exposures to these compounds, there is still a lack of data on humans from developing countries, especially in underprivileged children. The objective of this study was to assess the exposure to POPs and heavy metals in children from Dhaka, Bangladesh. One specific aim was to investigate whether children working at, or living close to, open waste disposal sites (WDSs) were more heavily exposed than other urban children. In 2008, blood and serum were collected from 73 children aged 7-16 from five neighbourhoods. Some of the children lived and worked at WDSs (N = 31), others lived next to a WDS (N = 17), whereas some children lived far from such sites (N = 25). Blood levels of lead (B-Pb), cadmium (B-Cd), and selenium (B-Se) were determined by ICP-MS for all subjects. The metal levels were high, with B-Pb overall mean 120 mu g L-1 (range 40-220), B-Cd 0.74 mu g L-1 (0.22-4.1), and B-Se 120 mu g L-1 (81-170). There were no marked differences between children from the different neighbourhoods, or between WDS workers and other children. PCB levels were low and with no contrast between neighbourhoods, for CB-153 the overall mean was 7.0 ng g(-1) fat (2.8-51). In contrast, high levels of DDTs were observed in all children, for 4,4'-DDE 1300 ng g(-1) fat (420-4600), and for 4,4'-DDT 326 ng g(-1) fat (44-1400), indicating ongoing exposure. PBDE levels were low, and BDE-209 was quantitated mainly in children working at or living close to WDSs. In conclusion, the high levels of DDTs, lead and cadmium observed in children from Dhaka are of concern. Many children were exposed at levels where health effects have been observed, or at levels without safety margins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2728-2734
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


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