Human exposure to persistent organic pollutants in West Africa - A temporal trend study from Guinea-Bissau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Humans, independent on where they live, are exposed to complex and various mixtures of chemicals, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The variability of the exposure depends on sources of the chemicals and is influenced by e.g. geography, social and cultural heritage. While exposures to POPs are frequently studied in populations from developed industrial countries, very little is known on levels and trends of POPs in developing countries, especially in Africa. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to investigate levels and temporal trends of POPs in adults from Guinea-Bissau. Methods: Serum samples were obtained from an open cohort of police officers in Guinea-Bissau. Repeated samples from 33 individuals were obtained at five time points between 1990 and 2007, in all 147 samples. Pooled serum samples were extracted and cleaned-up prior to analysis by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. The concentration of 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethane (4,4'-DDT) and its metabolites, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs) were determined. Results: The major POP found in all samples was 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethene (4,4'-DDE) followed by 4,4'-DDT. 4,4'-DDE, 4,4'-DDT, PCBs and beta- and gamma-HCH were significantly decreasing over time. The PBDEs were found at low concentrations, with an increasing temporal trend for BDE-153. Conclusion: National and international management may be behind the observed decreased organohalogen compound concentrations in humans from Guinea-Bissau from the early 1990's and onwards, similarly to the development of these compounds in humans from industrial countries. In contrast, PBDEs follow a trend of increasing concentrations even though at low levels. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Infectious Medicine


  • Human, HCH, PBDE, DDT, PCB, Africa
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-682
JournalEnvironment International
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (013078001), Infectious Diseases Research Unit (013242010), Division of Infection Medicine (SUS) (013008000)