Dermatology Department, University of Brescia, ASST Spedali Civili of Brescia, Italy
Department of Medical and Surgical Specialities Radiological Sciences and Public Health, Institute of Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene, University of Brescia, Italy
ATS Brescia (Brescia Health Protection Agency), Brescia, Italy
Department of Medical and Surgical Specialities Radiological Sciences and Public Health, Unit of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Brescia, Italy
Background: Although polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been classified as human carcinogens for their association with melanoma, few data are available for other skin lesions. Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of skin disorders in a highly PCB polluted area in northern Italy, with locally produced food as the main source of human contamination, and evaluate the association between skin lesions and PCB serum levels, taking account of possible confounders. Materials & Methods: Thirty-three PCB congeners were quantitatively assessed and a total of 189 subjects were equally divided into three groups using the tertiles of total PCB serum concentrations. All subjects underwent a clinical examination and were interviewed on their risk factors and history of skin diseases. Results: No statistically significant difference was found in the prevalence of skin cancer, nevi, pigmentary disorders as well as inflammatory and infectious skin diseases among the three PCB exposure groups. It should be noted that the use of questionnaires to assess subjects’ past sun exposure and photoprotection is intrinsically flawed due to random error. Conclusion: Our study does not support the hypothesis that chronic PCB exposure, through the ingestion of contaminated food, determines an increased risk of developing skin diseases.