Recently listed Stockholm convention POPs: Analytical methodology, occurrence in food and dietary exposure

AR Fernandes, D Mortimer, Martin Rose, F. Smith, Z Steel, S. Panton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, the Stockholm Convention has listed an additional set of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) for elimination or restricted use/release. Data on the occurrence of these contaminants in food is scarce. Validated analytical methodology was developed to investigate the occurrence of hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), pentachlorobenzene (PCBz), hexachlorobenzene (HCB) pentachlorophenol (PCP) and polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) in 120 retail foods and 19 total diet study samples. The foods covered the range of commonly consumed dietary items including dairy products, eggs (hen and other species), poultry, meat, fish, vegetables, etc. HCBD showed a low frequency of detection, whereas PCBz, HCB and PCNs occurred in most samples (ranges: <0.01 to 0.19 μg/kg; <0.01 to 3.16 μg/kg and 0.1 to 166 ng ΣPCNs/kg respectively). PCP (<0.01 to 1.9 μg/kg) was detected more frequently in meat products, offal and eggs. Fish, shellfish, eggs from all species, animal fats, meat, offal and meat products showed higher contamination levels, which is normal when investigating lipophilic POPs. These levels of occurrence are similar to more recently reported literature levels but perhaps lower, relative to historic data. This is not unexpected, given the restrictions/limitations on these chemicals within the UK and Western Europe. The estimated human exposure to population groups through dietary intake is correspondingly low and based on current toxicological knowledge, the levels in the examined samples do not suggest a cause for health concern. The data also provide a current baseline for HCBD, PCBz and PCP, and update existing data for PCN and HCB occurrence in foods.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date3 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


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