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Polychlorinated Biphenyl Exposure and Neuropsychological Status among Older Residents of Upper Hudson River Communities

Edward F. Fitzgerald, Erin E. Belanger, Marta I. Gomez, Michael Cayo, Robert J. McCaffrey, Richard F. Seegal, Robert L. Jansing, Syni-an Hwang and Heraline E. Hicks
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 116, No. 2 (Feb., 2008), pp. 209-215
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40040059
Page Count: 7
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Abstract

Background: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may accelerate the cognitive and motor dysfunction found in normal aging, but few studies have examined these outcomes and PCB exposure among older adults. Objective: We evaluated neuropsychological status and low-level PCB exposure among older adults living along contaminated portions of the upper Hudson River in New York. Methods: A total of 253 persons between 55 and 74 years of age were recruited and interviewed, and provided blood samples for congener-specific PCB analysis. Participants also underwent a neuropsychological battery consisting of 34 tests capable of detecting subtle deficits in cognition, motor function, affective state, and olfactory function. Results: After adjustment for potential confounders, the results indicated that an increase in serum total PCB concentration from 250 to 500 ppb (lipid basis) was associated with a 6.2% decrease in verbal learning, as measured by California Verbal Learning Test trial 1 score (p = 0.035), and with a 19.2% increase in depressive symptoms, as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory (p = 0.007). Conclusions: The results suggest that exposure to PCBs may be associated with some measures of memory and learning and depression among adults 55-74 years of age whose current body burdens are similar to those of the general population. Although the results are useful in delineating the neuropsychological effects of low-level exposure to PCBs, further studies of whether older men and women are a sensitive subpopulation are needed.

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