Environmental chemical exposures among Greenlandic children in relation to diet and residence

By Clara Amalie Gade Timmermann, Henning Sloth Pedersen, Esben Budtz-Jørgensen, Peter Bjerregaard, Youssef Oulhote, Pál Weihe, Flemming Nielsen, and Philippe Grandjean
Int J Circumpolar Health
July 29, 2019
DOI: 10.1080/22423982.2019.1642090

The objective of this study was to identify geographic, dietary, and other predictors for childhood exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and methylmercury in Greenlandic children. The study includes cross-sectional data from 367 Greenlandic children aged 7 to 12 years examined during 2012-2015. A parent or guardian participated in a structured interview, and a blood sample from the child was analysed for PFASs, PCBs and total mercury. Predictors for the environmental exposures were identified using linear regression. Area of residence was found to have the strongest explanatory power, accounting for 24% to 68% of the variance in the serum concentrations. Information about diet was available for two-thirds of the children, and among these, consumption of traditional Greenlandic food accounted for 2% to 10% of the variance in the biomarker concentrations. Models including all predictors associated with at least one of the environmental chemicals explained 19% to 54% of the total variance. In conclusion, area is a likely proxy for a traditional marine diet, and together area and diet constitute the most important predictors of exposure to methylmercury, PCBs and PFASs among Greenlandic children.

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