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Abstract

Mechanisms of actions and health effects of organochlorine substances: a review

Organochlorines are a various group of synthetic chemicals that include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dibenzo- p- dioxiins and organochlorine pesticides. Human exposure to organochlorine substances may occur through inhalation of air, ingestion of food and water and skin absorption. Human exposure to organochlorines may occur not only during adulthood but also during prenatal and neonatal period. The developing fetus is exposed to organochlorines through placental transfer and the neonate through lactation. Organochlorine compounds exert many toxic effects on human health, such as, hormone related conditions (endometrisios, infertility), cancer of male and female reproductive system, developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity. The majority of these effects may be due to the ability of organochlorines to alter the levels of certain hormones, enzymes, growth factors and neurotransmitters and to induce key genes (cytochrome P-450 1A1 gene) involved in metabolism of steroids and xenobiotics. However, there is not always possible to identify causal relationships between organochlorine exposure and deleterious health effects. Limitations in the ability to identify or to quantify causal relationships are occasionally misinterpreted as evidence of safety. Frequently, governments have to wait until sufficient scientific information of harm is established before they act to prevent harm. However, failure to take precautionary action may have severe social, economic and health costs.


Author(s): Gourounti Kleanthi

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