Organochlorine Compounds

Organochlorine Compounds (OC) belong to the Persistent Organic Compounds (POC) for their presence in the entire planet, their biostability and their slow biodegradation, their accumulation in adipose tissue and their long average life. As per their name, the OC are chemical organic compounds which have substituted some or the totality of their hydrogen atoms for chlorine.

The production and the intensive use of these compounds began in the 30s in industrial processes, like the production of insulators, and agriculturists (like pesticides). Many of these compounds are now prohibited, but they are still present due to their slow biodegradation and their use in the developing countries. The benefits of these compounds, such as synthetic pesticides, are undeniable but the preoccupation by their possible adverse effects on the human health in a long term basis has lately increased. These compounds have an average life of 10 years or more, and, thanks to their chemical properties, they have a great capacity to arrive to remote zones; they can be transported through the atmosphere and to be accumulated in the organic matter of the ground and in the live organisms.

The OC have dispersed and distributed throughout the entire planet. In human beings, the path of exposure is the rich fat diet, and several studies have shown that many of habitual consumption food in Spain (meat, fish, eggs, milk and derivatives) contain p, p'DDE, PCBs, HCB and isomers of HCH. The water air and consumption are also routes of environmental exposure. OC are stored in rich fat organs, like the liver or the brain, and also in serum or maternal milk. These compounds pass the placental barrier, and the breastfed babies incorporate them 20 times more than the adults. In the first three months of life they get to accumulate 6% of everything that will be accumulated during the rest of their lives.

Some studies made in new born babies to evaluate the possible effects of these compounds in populations exposed at the habitual levels of the developed world have proved a slight association between the prenatal exhibition to PCBs and the growth and later the motor and cognitive development. In adults, the exposure to OC has been associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease and endocrine alterations (majorly alterations in the thyroid system).