Dioxins and furans are by-products of several industrial processes (e.g. incineration, pulp bleaching, pesticide production), incineration of municipal and medical waste, backyard burning of household waste, wood combustion and electrical power generation. They can also be produced naturally, such as during forest fires and volcanic eruptions. As they are highly persistent, they can travel long distances after release, and are thus found even in remote areas. The main exposure route to the human population is through the diet.

Dioxins and furans may cause skin disease (e.g. chloracne), liver problems, impairment of the immune- and endocrine systems, reproductive dysfunctions and possibly cancer.

Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins

Detection limit (LOD): 0.01 pg/g serum

Polychlorinated dibenzofurans

Detection limit (LOD): 0.01 pg/g serum

PCBs, including 209 congeners, were produced for use in a wide variety of industrial and commercial materials such as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment, in sealing and caulking compounds, cutting oils, inks and paint additives. PCB manufacturing no longer occurs, but still, PCBs can be detected in the environment.

The most important source of PCB exposure in the general population is through the diet, primarily fish, meat and dairy products. This is because PCBs, due to their lipophilic nature, accumulate in fatty tissues of animals, and also in human breast milk. In fact, human milk is a major source of PCBs to infants. People may also become exposed to PCBs in buildings constructed with PCB-laden materials, or where old electrical devices and PCB containing transformers are found.

PCB exposure can lead to thyroid problems, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, or problems with the neuropsychological functioning (e.g. verbal learning).

Studies of the PCB pattern in blood samples can give important information about the nature of the PCB exposure. Highly chlorinated, very persistent PCBs will be abundant in high organisms, including fatty fish, and may be good marker candidates for general (dietary) exposure. Moderately persistent and easily metabolized PCBs, on the other hand, indicate occupational and recent occupational exposure, respectively. Calculating the ratio of easily metabolized (fast clearing) PCBs to relatively persistent (slow clearing) PCBs indicates whether an individual has been recently exposed.

Coplanar PCBs  
2,2',3,4',5,5'-hexaCB PCB 146
2,3,3',4,4',5-hexaCB (PCB 156)
2,3,3',4,4',6-hexaCB (PCB 158)
2,2',3,3',4,4',5-heptaCB (PCB 170)
2,2',3,4,4',5,5'-heptaCB (PCB 180)
2,2',3,4,4',5,6-heptaCB (PCB 183)
2,2',3,4',5,5',6-heptaCB (PCB 187)
2,2',3,3',4,4',5,5'-octaCB (PCB 194)
2,2',3,3',4,5,5',6'-octaCB (PCB 199)
2,4,4'-triCB (PCB 28)
2,2,5,5-tetraCB (PCB 43/52)
2,3',4,4'-tetraCB (PCB 66)
2,4,4',5-tetraCB (PCB 74)
3,3',4,4'-tetraCB (PCB 77)
3,4,4',5-tetraCB (PCB 81)
2,2',3,4,5'-pentaCB (PCB 87)
2,2',4,4',5-pentaCB (PCB 99)
2,2',4,5,5'-pentaCB (PCB 101)
2,3,3',4,4'-pentaCB (PCB 105)
2,3,3',4',6-pentaCB (PCB 110)
2,3',4,4',5-pentaCB (PCB 118)
3,3',4,4',5-pentaCB (PCB 126)
2,2',3,3',4,4'-hexaCB (PCB 128)
2,2',3,4,4',5-hexaCB (PCB138)
2,2',3,4',5',6-hexaCB (PCB 149)
2,2',3,5,5',6-hexaCB (PCB 151)
2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexaCB (PCB 153)
2,3,3',4,4',5'-hexaCB (PCB 157)
2,3',4,4',5,5'-hexaCB (PCB 167)
3,3',4,4',5,5'-hexaCB (PCB 169)
2,2',3,3',4,5,5'-heptaCB (PCB 172)
2,2',3,3',4,5',6'-heptaCB (PCB 177)
2,2',3,3',5,5',6-heptaCB (PCB 178)
2,3,3',4,4',5,5'-heptaCB (PCB 189)
2,2',3,3',4,4',5,6-octaCB (PCB 195)
2,2',3,3',4,4',5,6'-octaCB (PCB 196)
2,2',3,4,4',5,5',6-octaCB (PCB 203)
2,2',3,3',4,4',5,5',6-nonaCB (PCB 206)
2,2',3,3',4,4',5,5',6,6'-decaCB (PCB 209)

Detection limit (LOD):5 pg/g serum
Analytical method: HRGC-HRMS

Organochlorine pesticides are synthetic compounds once widely used as insecticides and fungicides. They are extremely environmentally persistent, travel long distances and have high bioaccumulation potentials. In the 1960s, their potential to cause severe health effects was recognized. Since then, a number of organochlorine pesticides have been globally banned and are controlled under an international agreement (the Stockholm Convention). Organochlorine pesticides are sometimes referred to as legacy pollutants.

The human population is mainly exposed to organochlorine pesticides through dietary uptake. Possible health effects include skin disorders, reproductive dysfunctions and cancer.

Organochlorine pesticides LOD
Mirex 0.05
4,4'-DDE 0.1
Hexachlorobenzene 0.01
α-Hexachlorocyclohexane 0.1
β-Hexachlorocyclohexane 0.05
γ-Hexachlorocyclohexane 0.05
δ-Hexachlorocyclohexane 0.1
4,4'-DDT 0.1
2,4'-DDT 0.1
Chlordane 0.05
Oxychlordane 0.05
trans-Nonachlor 0.1
Heptachlor 0.1
Heptachlor Epoxide 0.1
Aldrin 0.05
Dieldrin 0.1
Endrin 0.05
4,4'-DDD 0.1
Endosulfan 0.1
Metoxychlor 0.1
Octachlorostyrene 0.1

LOD expressed as ng/g serum.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been used as flame retardants in many types of products, e.g. building materials, electronics and textiles. PBDEs are relatively persistent in the environment, and can thus be found even in remote areas.

Possible health effects are believed to include impaired development of the nervous system and hormone disrupting effects.

Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBBs) (5-25 pg/g serum)
Tetrabromobisphenol (TBBP-A) (30 pg/g serum)

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
BDE 28 0.07
BDE 47 0.2
BDE 66 0.2
BDE 77 0.2
BDE 85 0.3
BDE 99 0.3
BDE 100 0.2
BDE 138 0.2
BDE 153 0.2
BDE 154 0.2
BDE 183 0.2
BDE 209 0.2

LOD expressed as ng/g lipid

Perfluorinated chemicals are man-made compounds mainly used in stain repellents, fire fighting foams, and as surfactants. They can also form from the biodegradation of precursors.

Perfluorinated compounds are released from various consumer products. Uptake through food is another potential exposure route.

In animal studies, PFOS has been shown to affect the immune system, and may also cause cancer and endocrine disruption. Studies relating to health effects on humans are limited.

Perfluorinated compounds  
Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) 0.5
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) 0.1
Perfluorodecane sulfonate (PFDS) 0.15
Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) 0.02
Perfluorononanoate (PFNA) 0.05
Perfluorodecanoate (PFDA) 0.1
Perfluoroundecanoate (PFUA) 0.1
Perfluorododecanoate (PFDoA) 0.05
Perfluorotetradecanoate (PFTA) 0.1

LOD expressed as ng/g serum