Long-term daily intake estimates of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans, polychlorinated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenylethers from food in Finnish children: risk assessment implications

Food is contaminated by polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD/F), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDE) worldwide. Previous data show elevated intakes in children. We determined intakes of POPs in Finnish children. Because no children-specific safe limit values exist, we used tolerable daily intakes (TDIs) set for adults by international expert bodies to examine the proportion of the study population that exceed those limits. We utilised dietary monitoring data with food consumption of Finnish boys and girls aged 1–6 years, measured the contaminant concentrations in all the main food items and calculated age-specific contaminant sum and congener-specific long-term daily intake levels. Our food intake and contaminant data correspond to years 2002–2005. The long-term upper-bound dioxin intakes ranged between 0.1 and 12.8 pg WHOPCDD/F-PCB-TEQ/kg bw/d (min and max). An immediate TDI for WHOPCDD/F-PCB-TEQs of 4.0 pg/kg bw/d were exceeded by 2.5%–7.5% of the children. PBDE long-term upper-bound intake was between 0.1 and 5.8 ng/kg bw/d (min and max). Congener-specific analyses indicated a typical Finnish adult exposure pattern of the children to PCDD/Fs, PCBs and PBDEs. The highest POP intakes were observed in children aged 3 years. Long-term daily PCDD/F, PCB and PBDE intakes among Finnish children varied greatly between individuals and ages. In each age group of the study population, there was a proportion of children with their WHOPCDD/F-PCB-TEQ intake exceeding considered safe limits set for adults. Based on the exposure profile reported herein, children should be clearly considered as a specific sub-population in food-mediated contaminant risk assessment.