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The polybrominated biphenyl contamination episode in Michigan: a review with emphasis on immunological impairment.

Rom WN
Proceedings of the VII International Congress of Rural Medicine, September 17-21, Salt Lake City, Utah. International Association of Agricultural Medicine, 1978 Sep; :291-295
The immunotoxic effects of a polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) contamination episode were discussed. Widespread contamination of cattle feed occurred in the summer of 1973 in the State of Michigan when Firemaster-BP-6 (59536651), a commercial PBB containing fire retardant, was accidentally substituted for magnesium-oxide in a feed supplement for lactating cows. This led to widespread consumption of beef, poultry, pork, eggs, milk, and cheese containing PBBs throughout Michigan. More than 35,000 cattle and 1.5 million chickens died or had to be destroyed. Studies of lymphocyte mitogenic function in 45 exposed Michigan dairy farmers showed normal responses to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and pokeweed mitogen (PWM) and a reduced reactivity in mixed lymphocyte cultures in 27 subjects. In the other 18 subjects, the responses to PHA and PWM were significantly reduced along with that of mixed leukocyte cultures. All of the subjects with normal mitogenic responses had significant decreases in percentage of T-cells as did the subjects with decreased mitogenic function. All but two subjects had serum PBB concentrations greater than or equal to 0.5 parts per billion. Serum PBB concentrations, however, were not correlated with lymphocyte function. Similar studies conducted in laboratory animals exposed to high and low doses of PBBs (not specified) found a dose related lymphocyte dysfunction in the high dose group. A followup study of 90 Michigan residents with high or low PBB exposures found all parameters of lymphocyte function to be normal. The author concludes that PBBs are capable of altering lymphocyte function. It is not known which PBBs are responsible for this. Some members of the exposed population are more susceptible to PBBs than others. The clinical significance of the changes in lymphocyte function are unknown.
NIOSH-Grant; Grants-other; Organo-bromine-compounds; Environmental-exposure; Blood-samples; Immunological-tests; Blood-cells; Laboratory-animals; In-vivo-studies; Immunotoxins; Livestock
Prev Med & Environmental Hlth University of Iowa Inst/agric Med & Environ Hlth Iowa Oakdale, Iowa 52319
Publication Date
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Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Funding Amount
Funding Type
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Other Occupational Concerns; Grants-other
Source Name
Proceedings of the VII International Congress of Rural Medicine, September 17-21, Salt Lake City, Utah
Performing Organization
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division