The Global Distribution of PCBs, Organochlorine Pesticides, Polychlorinated Dibenzo-P-Diosins and Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans Using Butter as an Integrative Matrix

Publication - 1 December, 2000

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Executive summary: A total of 138 samples of butter were collected during 1998 and 1999 from retail outlets (mainlysupermarkets) in 24 countries worldwide. A sub-set of 63 samples representing 23 of the countries were analysed for PCBs and a number of chlorinated pesticide residues at the University of Lancaster, UK (as previously reported by Kalantzi et al. 2000). A further sub-set of 25 butter samples, representing all 24 countries included, were selected for analysis of dioxins, furans and dioxin-like non-ortho PCBs by the Central Science Laboratories, York, UK.Butter ∑PCB concentrations varied by a factor of ~60 in 63 samples from 23 countries (Kalantzi etal. 2000). They were highest in European and North American butter and lowest in southern hemisphere (Australian, New Zealand) samples, consistent with known patterns of historical global usage and estimated emissions. Congener-specific concentrations in butter reflected differences in the propensity of PCB congeners to undergo long range atmospheric transport from global sourceregions to remote areas. HCB distributions were consistent with the relatively even distribution ofthis compound in the global atmosphere. Concentrations of p,p-DDT, p,p-DDE and HCH isomersall varied over many orders of magnitude in the butter samples, with highest levels in areas of current use (e.g. India and south/central America for DDT; India, China and Spain for HCH).With the exception of the sample from Spain, which yielded by far the highest concentrations,levels of dioxins and furans (I-TEQ and WHO-TEQ) in the samples fell within a range similar to values reported previously for European butters and other dairy products. Other than the Spanish butter, highest values were recorded for samples from the Netherlands and Italy. Outside Europe, butters from India, China and Tunisia also showed relatively high levels of dioxin contamination.Dioxin-like non-ortho PCBs made particularly significant contributions to overall TEQ in butters from Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Tunisia, India and Argentina. Although overall TEQs were generally highest in butters from European countries, elevated levels were also apparent in the industrialising regions of Asia (India and China) and Latin America (particularly Argentina).On the basis of levels of PCBs and pesticides recorded, Kalantzi et al. (2000) concluded that:-“…butter is sensitive to local, regional and global scale spatial and temporal atmospheric trends ofmany POPs and may therefore provide a useful sampling medium for monitoring purposes.However, to improve the quantitative information derived on air concentrations requires anawareness of climatic and livestock management factors which influence air-milk fat transferprocesses.In a similar manner, butter may also represent a useful matrix to obtain a representative descriptionof regional patterns of dioxin/furan distribution. Given the relatively low mobility of these compounds, however, the possible significance of specific dioxin sources in close proximity to the provenance of the butters may be even greater in this case.

Num. pages: 20

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