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April 16, 1982

Tissue Burdens of Toxic Pollutants

JAMA. 1982;247(15):2142. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320400054036

An article in this issue of The Journal (p 2112) presents new information on the tissue burden of polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) of Michigan residents and relates this to the tissue burdens of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 2,2′-bis-(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dichloroethylene (DDE), a metabolite of dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT). The finding that 70% of a random sample of the population have detectable levels of PBB in serum and 9796 have PBB in adipose tissue is a dramatic one. It is another reminder of our vulnerability to the increasing number and volume of potentially toxic chemicals used in manufacturing, agriculture, pest control, and food processing.

The concomitant tissue burdens of PCB, PBB, and DDE may have greater biologic significance than each considered separately. The nature and extent of environmental contamination by the three chemicals vary greatly. The oldest is PCB, which was introduced in the United States in 1930. Its use in manufacturing