Risk assessments of polychlorinated dibenzo- p-dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls in food
Molecular Nutrition and Food Research 50(10): 885-896
ISSN/ISBN: 1613-4125 PMID: 17009211 DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.200500247
The polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF), and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dioxin-like PCB) are ubiquitous in food of animal origin and accumulate in fatty tissues of animals and humans. The most toxic congener is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). The toxic responses include dermal toxicity, immunotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and reproductive and developmental toxicity. Toxic equivalency factors have been established for the other PCDD, PCDF and dioxin-like PCB relative to TCDD, and the combined toxicity of a sample can be expressed as toxic equivalent (WHO-TEQ). The EC Scientific Committee for Food evaluated these compounds in 2001. The assessment used the most sensitive adverse toxicological end-points of TCDD in experimental animals. These were developmental and reproductive effects in the male offspring of rats administered TCDD during pregnancy. Because of the large difference between rats and humans in the biological half-life of TCDD, the assessment used a body burden approach to compare across species and derived a tolerable weekly intake of 14 pg TCDD/kg of body weight (bw), which was extended to include all the 2,3,7,8-substituted PCDD and PCDF, and the dioxin-like PCB, and expressed as a group tolerable weekly intake of 14 pg WHO-TEQ/kg bw. The FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) performed a similar assessment whereas the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has paid more attention to human data on carcinogenicity.