Persistent Organic Pollutants POP Up In a Surprising New Place

From: Robina Suwol
Date: 15 Feb 2007
Time: 21:05:17
Remote Name:


Persistent Organic Pollutants POP Up In a Surprising New Place Vol. 8, No. 4 - February 2007 Persistent Organic Pollutants have been clearly shown to cause some of the most serious health conditions known to medical science. That's why so many of these POPs, as they're called, have been banned. Now scientists have found another reason to eliminate those that remain. They've connected them to perhaps the greatest epidemic of our modern world, the scourge of diabetes.

Persistent Organic Pollutants consist of those chlorinated hydrocarbon chemicals (substances made by combining chlorine with hydrocarbons obtained from fossil fuels) that share a series of common traits. To be declared a POP, a chemical must:  persist in the environment  build up in body fat and accumulate in ever higher levels as it moves up the food chain to humans ? travel efficiently in the atmosphere and global waters ? be linked to serious hormonal, reproductive, neurological, and immune disorders POPs include many pesticides, household and industrial chemicals, and by-products of a variety of manufacturing and waste incineration processes.

Among these most toxic of pollutants are DDT, dioxins, and PCBs. Though the international community banned or greatly restricted twelve of the most hazardous POPs a group known as the "dirty dozen," in 2003, many more remain in use, and all POPs past and present continue to pose a grave threat to human and environmental health because they last a very long time once produced..

Virtually every person on the planet has POPs in their body, and the chemicals have been linked to cancer, hormonal disruption, developmental and reproductive disorders, and a good number of other equally serious conditions. Now scientists in Korea have uncovered startling new evidence that links POP exposure to diabetes. Researchers examined POP concentrations in the bodies of 2,016 test subjects that were part of the 1998-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Six common POPs were targeted. These POP selections were based on the fact that they had been found in the tissues of approximately 80% of that earlier study's participants and were therefore fairly universally found.

The analysis revealed the following: When each POP was considered on an individual basis, the study found that there was a three to five times higher risk of contracting diabetes associated with higher levels of any particular POP in bodily tissues. When all six POPs were measured together in a single total sum of bodily POP contamination, the risk of diabetes increased by an extraordinary factor of 38 in those with higher overall levels of total POPs.

Stunningly, the study found no connection between diabetes and obesity by itself. Instead, it pointed to a cause-and-effect relationship between POPs concentrations and the disease. Those obese subjects who had no measurable concentrations of the selected POPs in their bodies did not have diabetes. Diabetes was only seen in obese subjects whose blood concentrations of the POPs were above a certain level.

These results held true even after the study was adjusted for various other factors, including age, sex, race and ethnicity, poverty/income ratio, body/mass index, and waist circumference. While the researchers were unable to definitively state that POP exposures cause diabetes, the results of their project clearly pointed toward that conclusion and indicate the urgent need for more study.

Study results are available at

Last changed: February 15, 2007