This study was designed to evaluate both levels and distributions of organochlorine pollutants in placenta and other maternal-foetal tissues, from women resident in an Italian highly industrialized urban area with demonstrated PCB pollution. To this end, 30 polychlorinated biphenyl congeners (PCBs), p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p'-DDT), p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB), were determined in placenta, both maternal and cord blood serum and adipose tissue of Caucasian pregnant women (n=70) undergoing to programmed caesarean delivery. Median placental concentrations of PCBs, p,p'-DDE and HCB (0.89 ng g(-1), 0.63 ng g(-1) and 0.19 ng g(-1) on wet tissue weight basis, respectively), were lower than previously published data. p,p'-DDT could be detected in most of adipose tissue samples, but very rarely in the other compartments. Distributions of investigated compounds in biological matrices showed significant relationships, confirming their transplacental transfer. It is worthy of note that HCB tended to be transferred more easily from maternal to foetal tissues. Maternal serum levels of these pollutants can allow a reliable estimation of organochlorine compound body burden, and can be useful markers of prenatal exposure, given their relationships with placental and umbilical cord serum levels.
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