PCB congener profile in the serum of humans consuming Great Lakes fish

Harold E.B. Humphrey, Joseph C. Joseph, Jasma R. Pandya, Anne M. Sweeney, Donna M. Gasior, Robert J. McCaffrey, Susan L. Schantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The State of Michigan has a long history of research into human exposure to environmental contaminants through consumption of recreationally caught fish. A large cohort of Lake Michigan residents who eat fish (fish-eaters) and those who do not eat fish (nonfish-eaters) established in 1980 served as the basis for the congener-specific polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure evaluation reported here. In this paper we present the serum PCB congener profile for a subset of this cohort who were over 50 years of age. Serum samples were collected in 1993-1995 and were evaluated by a dual column capillary column gas chromatography procedure capable of detecting over 90 PCB congeners. This evaluation demonstrated significant PCB exposure in the fish-eaters (mean serum PCB of 14.26 ppb; n = 101). This elevated exposure allowed the establishment of a detailed profile of the PCB congeners found in humans exposed by this route. Twenty-two congeners of varying concentrations were the most prevalent and constituted over 95% of the total PCB present in most subjects. Four congeners, 138/163 (2,2',3,4,4',5-PCB/2,3,3',4',5,6-PCB), 180 (2,2',3;4,4',5,5'-PCB), and 153 (2,2',4,4',5,5'-PCB), accounted for 55-64% of the total PCB load. Other congeners, some of toxicologic significance, were also detected by this analytical protocol. Nonfish-eaters had lower total serum PCB levels (mean = 4.56; n = 78), but the same general pattern of PCB congeners was present. It was demonstrated that careful selection of a subset of prevalent PCB congeners could provide a cost-effective assessment of exposure without losing critical scientific information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-172
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000


  • Aging
  • Capillary column gas chromatography
  • Fish-eaters
  • Great Lakes
  • Lake Michigan
  • Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congener profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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