Hormone levels and sexual development in Flemish adolescents residing in areas differing in pollution pressure
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
International journal of hygiene and environmental health. - München
, p. 612-625
University of Antwerp
In 2002, the Centre for Environment and Health in Flanders, Belgium started a human biomonitoring program. For 1679 adolescents, residing in nine study areas with differing pollution pressure, hormone levels and the degree of sexual maturation were measured. Possible confounding effects of lifestyle and personal characteristics were taken into account. Participants from the nine different study areas had significantly different levels of sex hormones (total and free testosterone, oestradiol, aromatase, luteinizing hormone) and the thyroid hormone free triiodothyronine, after correction for confounders. Significantly higher hormone concentrations were measured in samples from participants residing in the area around the waste incinerators, while significantly lower values were found in participants residing in the Albert Canal zone with chemical industry. Sexual maturation of boys as well as girls tended to be somewhat slower in the industrial city of Antwerp and in the Antwerp harbour compared to the other areas in Flanders. Even within the same study area, significant differences in hormone levels could be observed between sub-areas. Data on the internal exposure of the same adolescents to lead, cadmium, PCBs, p,p-DDE, HCB, 1-hydroxypyrene and t,t-muconic acid have already been published. The observed differences in hormone levels and in sexual maturation could however only in part be explained by the measured differences in internal exposure to pollutants, suggesting that also other pollutants and other factors that vary in function of the area of residence could play a role. Nevertheless, our results also suggest that local (environmental) factors, acting within a short distance, might influence the measured hormone levels and degree of sexual maturation.