Environment international

High levels of dioxin-like PCBs found in organic-farmed eggs caused by coating materials of asbestos-cement fiber plates: A case study.

PMID 25898153


During a regional monitoring project of organic-farmed, free-range and cage-free eggs, high levels of dioxin-like compounds were detected in organic-farmed eggs, using the dioxin responsive chemical-activated luciferase gene expression (DR-CALUX®) bioassay. Further evaluations performed with GC-HRMS (gas chromatography in combination with high resolution mass spectrometry) revealed elevated amounts of non-dioxin-like (non-dl) polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) dominated by most lipophilic congeners like PCB 138, 153 and 180 and of dioxin-like (dl) PCBs, with a congener pattern in the descending order of PCB 118, 156, 167, 105, 189, 157, 105, 126 and PCB 77. Contaminations with polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) appeared of minor priority, with only hepta- and octa-substituted dioxins above their limits of quantification (LOQs). The pattern of polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) was dominated by low amounts of tetra- and penta-chlorinated congeners. To identify the source of contamination, several samples of organic-farmed eggs, soil, laying hens, feedstuff, corrugated asbestos-cement cover plates (ACPs), stable dust and debris collected in the gutter of the stable, were analyzed. Comparing PCB congener-pattern of individual samples, the source was traced back to the coating of ACPs, which covered roof and sidewalls of the stable. Because coating materials probably have been used for roofing and cladding in many countries worldwide, there is a high probability that the presented case report is not a local incident but rather describes a new source of PCB contamination, yet widely unknown or underestimated.