Unité de toxicologie industrielle et de médecine du travail, Faculté de médecine, Université catholique de Louvain, Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs 30.54, B-1200 Bruxelles, Belgique, Laboratoire de spectrométrie de masse (CART), Université de Liège, Allée de la Chimie 3 – B6c, Sart-Tilman, B-4000 Liège, Belgique
The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact on local residents’ exposure to dioxins and coplanar PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) of two municipal solid waste incinerators (MSWI), one in an industrial area and the other in a rural zone, and two sintering plants, all located in Wallonia (Belgium). In all, 142 volunteers subjects living around these facilities and 63 volunteer referents from an unpolluted rural area were recruited and compared. They completed a self-administered questionnaire that furnished information about dietary habits, smoking habits, anthropometric characteristics, residential history and health status. They also provided blood samples under fasting conditions so that the body burden of dioxins (17 PCDD/Fs congeners) and coplanar PCBs could be assessed. After adjustment for covariates determined by multiple linear regression analysis, serum concentrations of dioxins and coplanar PCBs in subjects living in the vicinity of the MSWI in the industrial area and of the sintering plants were similar to those of referents. In contrast, subjects living in the vicinity of the rural MSWI had significantly higher serum levels of dioxins (geometric mean, 38 vs 24 pg TEQ/g fat, p<0.0001) and coplanar PCBs (geometric mean, 10.8 vs 7.0 pg TEQ/g fat, p<0.05). Age-adjusted dioxin levels in referents did not vary with local animal fat consumption, but dioxin concentrations in subjects living around the MSWIs correlated positively with their intake of local animal fat, with levels almost doubled in subjects with the highest intake. These results show that the dioxins and coplanar PCBs emitted by MSWIs can indeed accumulate in the body of residents who consume animal products of local origin.