This study examined the association between self-reported diabetes, fish consumption and serum levels of organochlorines in a First Nation community. One quarter of the 101 participants reported diabetes. Serum PCBs, but not p,p'-DDE, were positively correlated to consumption frequency of total fish, walleye and pike, but not trout. Reported diabetes was positively associated to p,p'-DDE and some PCB congeners. Odds Ratios (OR) for reported diabetes for those in the upper 75th percentile for serum p,p'-DDE compared to the others were 3.5 (95% CI 1-13.8) and 6.1 (95% CI 1.4-27.3) (weight wet and lipid-standardized values, respectively) and for total sum of PCBs: 4.91 (95% CI 1.4-19.0) and 5.51 (95% CI 1.3-24.1). For participants who were in the upper 50th percentile for trout and white fish intake, reported diabetes was respectively 6 and 4 times lower compared to the others. These findings support the hypothesis that environmental exposure to elevated p,p'-DDE and PCBs is associated with increased risk of diabetes. Consumption of trout and white fish may be beneficial to reduce risk.
Manganese (Mn) and lead (Pb) are two neurotoxic chemicals and experimental evidence suggests that they can cross the placental barrier. Tetraethyl lead was still in use as an antiknock agent in Paris during the sampling period of the study, while it has been replaced by methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) in Canada since 1977. By 1990, MMT was in 100% of gasoline in Canada. In a study of 160 pairs of mothers-neonates in Montreal and 206 pairs in Paris, we compared levels of Mn and Pb in the umbilical cord and in maternal blood. Neonates and mothers had significantly higher Pb levels in Paris where lead additives were still used in gasoline. Geometric mean maternal blood Pb levels were 5.4 microg/dl compared to 2.1 microg/dl in Montreal and cord blood Pb levels were 3.2 microg/dl in Parisian mothers compared to 1.7 microg/dl in Montreal. The prevalence of Paris Pb values superior to the 95th percentile of the Montreal distribution was highly elevated in all media studied. The prevalence of high Mn levels in umbilical cord blood was also significantly higher in Montreal. Surveillance programs are important to limit Pb overexposure and associated neurological effects in neonates where tetraethyl Pb is still in use as a gasoline additive. Since Mn is an essential element and dietary Mn intake may differ between Montreal and Paris, the difference observed with regard to high Mn values between Montreal and Paris cannot, at this time, be attributed to MMT in Montreal's gasoline. Further studies are needed to infer an association between Mn emissions from MMT and prenatal exposure to Mn.
Erratum In: Sci Total Environ. 2002 Dec 2;300(1-3):247
Many studies use the number of fish meals as an estimate of Hg intake, although fish Hg concentrations, even within the same species, can greatly vary. Furthermore, most freshwater advisories only refer to local catch, while market fish advisories only focus on market fish, although both can contribute to Hg body burden. The present study, carried out in lakeside communities from 2 ecosystems in Quebec, Canada, sought to (i) estimate Hg intake from local freshwater sources, hunted waterfowl and market fish and seafood, and (ii) examine the relations between fish consumption, estimated Hg intake and biomarkers of exposure. A total of 238 adults (18-74 years), who had consumed local catch within the past three months, responded to an extensive interview-administered fish and waterfowl frequency questionnaire. Anthropometric measures were taken and a self-administered questionnaire was used to obtain socio-demographic information. Hg intake was estimated as microg Hg/kg body weight/day. Blood and hair samples were analyzed for Hg content. Results showed that persons from one ecosystem ate significantly more fish compared to those from the other (median: 52.1 g/day vs 38.9 g/day), but presented significantly lower concentrations of hair Hg (median: 448.0 ng/g vs 730.5 ng/g), blood organic Hg (median: 1.1 microg/L vs 3.4 microg/L) and inorganic Hg (median: 0.4 microg/L vs 0.8 microg/L). Median daily total Hg intake was 0.080 microg/kg bw/day for the former community and 0.141 microg/kg bw/day for the latter. Overall, 59.5% from the first ecosystem and 41.0% from the other, exceeded the US EPA RfD (0.1 microg/kg bw/day), while 13.2% and 6.0%, respectively, exceeded the Canadian tolerable daily intake (0.47 microg/kg bw/day) for adults. For the two groups, freshwater fish consumption frequency, but not total fish, was positively associated with bioindicators of Hg while estimated Hg intake from freshwater catch as well as from total fish consumption were positively related to Hg biomarkers. There was a positive relation between consumption and estimated Hg intake from freshwater fish and blood inorganic Hg. These findings indicate that the number of fish can be a poor surrogate for Hg exposure. The differences observed here for Hg intake and exposure reflect ecosystem disparities in fish diversity and Hg bioaccumulation. Studies and advisories need to consider Hg fish concentrations and fish-eating patterns in different ecosystems, as well as the contribution of market fish. The relation between fish consumption and inorganic Hg exposure, reported as well in other studies, needs to be further investigated.
For most Canadians, food represents one of the major sources of environmental contaminants. Among them, organochlorine compounds (OCs) are known to affect calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis. They are neurotoxic by perturbation of Ca2+ channels and pumps, and they interfere with protein kinase C (PKC) and Ca2+ binding protein (CaBP). Ca2+ is an essential element to adequate fetal growth and development. The aim of the present study is to determine the relation between low environmental maternal exposure to OCs, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB 153), Aroclor 1260, p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and p,p'-dichlorodiphenyl-dichloroethane (DDE), Ca2+ levels in serum and placenta, placental Ca2+ transfer, and newborn development. Total Ca2+ and OCs were measured in women's serum samples, as well as in umbilical cord's serum and placenta at term. Placentas were taken for trophoblast cells isolation and Ca2+ incorporation kinetic experiments. Our results were obtained from 30 pregnant women from the southwestern area of Quebec. Concentrations of Aroclor 1260, PCB 153, DDE, and DDT were respectively 6.1, 6.0, 3.1, and 2.9 times lower in the umbilical cord serum than in the mother's serum at term. In the placenta, DDE was accumulated at higher levels than other contaminants. A tendency towards an inverse relation was observed for in OCs found in three compartments and Ca2+ levels in maternal serum and in placental tissues. Maternal Ca2+ concentrations do not influence Ca2+ uptake by syncytiotrophoblast. Only DDE (>/=0.70 mug/l) in maternal serum significantly was associated with a small increase in Ca2+ uptake by syncytiotrophoblast. This study will help us determine if low OC contamination significantly modifies Ca2+ transfer in syncytiotrophoblast.
Environmental chemicals can disrupt endocrine balance and in particular thyroid hormone (TH) homeostasis. However, studies differ with respect to thyroid profile changes and gender differences are rarely examined. This study investigated the THs, triodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), in relation to serum organochlorines (OCs), bioindicators of mercury (Hg) and blood lead (Pb) in 211 freshwater fish consumers (124 men and 87 women) from two communities in Canada. Thyroid hormones were within the normal range and the bioindicators of exposure were low compared to other reports on fish consumers. Stratified analysis showed that for women, serum T3 concentrations were negatively related to serum concentrations of PCB 138, PCB 153, the non-coplanar congeners, Arochlor 1260, and SigmaPCB, as well as p,p'-DDE. No relations were observed between T4 and any of the chemicals measured, but TSH was negatively related to blood Pb. For men, serum T4 was inversely related to PCB 138, non-ortho-substituted (dioxin-like) PCBs and SigmaPCB. A significant positive relationship was observed between serum TSH and different PCB congeners (PCB 138, PCB 180, non-coplanar congeners, mono-ortho coplanar congeners, dioxin-like PCBs), as well as SigmaPCB. Serum TSH increased with hair and blood Hg concentrations and was highest among those in the highest 50th percentile for both Hg and dioxin-like PCB congeners compared to the others. No associations were observed for T3 in men. These findings suggest that even at low concentrations, these environmental contaminants can interfere with thyroid status and effects may differ by gender.
Neurotoxic effects are known to occur with inhalation of manganese particulates, but very few data are available on exposure to Mn in water. We undertook a pilot study in a community in Quebec (Canada) where naturally occurring high Mn levels were present in the public water system. Our objective was to test the hypothesis that greater exposure to Mn via drinking water would be reflected in higher Mn content in hair which, in turn, would be associated with increased level of hyperactive behaviors.
Forty-six children participated in the study, 24 boys and 22 girls, 6-15 years of age (median, 11 years). Their homes received water from one of two wells (W) with different Mn concentrations: WI: mean 610 microg/L; W2: mean 160 microg/L. The Revised Conners' Rating Scale for parents (CPRS-R) and for teachers (CTRS-R) were administered, providing T-scores on the following subscales: Oppositional, Hyperactivity, Cognitive Problems/Inattention, and ADHD Index.
Children whose houses were supplied by WI had higher hair Mn (MnH) than those supplied by W2 (mean 6.2+/-4.7 microg/g vs. 3.3+/-3.0 microg/g, p = 0.025). MnH was significantly associated with T-scores on the CTRS-R Oppositional (p = 0.020) and Hyperactivity (p = 0.002) subscales, after adjustment for age, sex, and income. All children with Oppositional and Hyperactivity T-scores > 65 had MnH > 3.0 microg/g.
The findings of this pilot study are sufficiently compelling to warrant more extensive investigations into the risks of Mn exposure in drinking water.
Laboratoire de Physiologie Materno-Foetale and Centre d'étude des interactions biologiques entre la santé et l'environnement (CINBOISE), Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Québec, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2004 Jul 23;67(14):1069-79
There is an extensive literature on the neurotoxic effects of lead (Pb) on the developing fetus; however, little is known about the mechanisms of action at low levels. Heavy metals are known to affect calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis through perturbation of Ca2+ channels and pumps and interference with protein kinase C (PKC) and Ca2+ binding protein (CaBP). During pregnancy, placental Ca2+ exchange is one of the most important mechanisms for fetal survival. This ion is an essential element for healthy fetal growth and development. The aim of the present study was to determine the influence of low maternal blood Pb levels on Ca2+ levels in serum and placenta and placental Ca2+ transfer. Blood samples (maternal and cord) and placental tissue were obtained at birth from 30 women residing in southwest Quebec. Total Ca2+ and Pb levels were measured in maternal and umbilical cord samples and placental tissue at term. The placentas were taken for trophoblast cell isolation and Ca2+ incorporation kinetic experiments. Data showed that Ca2+ in maternal blood did not influence Ca2+ uptake by syncytiotrophoblast. However, although maternal and cord blood Pb levels were low, maternal blood Pb concentration was significantly linked to a decrease in Ca2+ uptake by syncytiotrophoblast. This suggests that exposure to very levels of Pb significantly modifies Ca2+ transfer in syncytiotrophoblasts.
Manganese (Mn) is both an essential element and a potent neurotoxin. Higher demand during pregnancy leads to increased blood levels. Previous studies have suggested that environmental factors may influence blood Mn levels. As part of a community-based survey of potentially toxic environmental contaminants among pregnant women, the objective of this exploratory study was to examine the Mn status in pregnant women and their newborns with respect to sociodemographic and environmental variables. Pregnant women from Southwest Quebec were recruited in the first or second trimester through the public health prenatal program Mn was analyzed in mother's blood at entry into the study, in the second trimester (for those who entered during the first trimester), and at delivery, as well as in umbilical cord blood and in placental tissue. Sociodemographic data and information about pregnancy were obtained by two questionnaires; the first was administered at study entry and the second a few weeks following birth. Results showed that mothers' Mn blood levels increased significantly during pregnancy and cord blood Mn levels were significantly higher than those for mothers' blood. There was no relation to age. Smokers had significantly lower Mn blood levels compared to nonsmokers at the second trimester. Those who lived in urban and/or agricultural areas had significantly higher levels compared to those who lived in small villages. Those who reported pesticide spraying less than 1 km from their house likewise had significantly higher levels compared to the others. These findings suggest that lifestyle and environmental factors may interfere with the delicate balance and homeostatic mechanisms required to maintain Mn at optimal levels for physiological changes during pregnancy.