Persistent organic pollutants in foods

Nutrition is the basis of our lives, but much of the food we eat is contaminated or polluted

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Persistent organic pollutants in foods

Persistent organic pollutants in foods, their interplay with gut microbiota and resultant toxicity, research published on the The Science of the total environment, goes deep into an issue that affects all human beings. Nutrition is the basis of our lives, but much of the food we eat is contaminated or polluted.

Persistent organic pollutants in foods

The researchers explain: "Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) have become immensely prevalent in the environment as a result of their unique chemical properties (persistent, semi-volatile and bioaccumulative nature).

Their occurrence in the soil, water and subsequently in food has become a matter of concern. With food being one of the major sources of exposure, the detrimental impact of these chemicals on the gut microbiome is inevitable The gut microbiome is considered as an important integrant for human health.

It participates in various physiological, biochemical and immunological activities; thus , affects the metabolism and physiology of the host. A myriad of studies have corroborated an association between POP-induced gut microbial dysbiosis and prevalence of disorders.

For instance, ingestion of polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers or organochlorine pesticides influenced bile acid metabolism via alteration of bile salt hydrolase activity of Lactobacillus, Clostridium or Bacteroides genus.

At the same time, some chemicals such as DDE have the potential to elevate Proteobacteria and Firmicutes/Bacteriodetes ratio influencing their metabolic activity leading to enhanced short-chain fatty acid synthesis, ensuing obesity or a pre-diabetic state.

This review highlights the impact of POPs exposure on the gut microbiota composition and metabolic activity, along with an account of its corresponding consequences on the host physiology. The critical role of gut microbiota in preventing the POPs excretion out of the body resulting in their prolonged exposure and consequently, enhanced degree of toxicity is also emphasized." The major effects on health are linked to direct contact of people with contaminated and particularly frequented areas of land.

Of toxicological importance are the intake of contaminated water, the entry of toxic substances into the food chain (for example through animals that have grazed on polluted land or the consumption of vegetables) and the inhalation of vaporized compounds.

There is a wide range of acute and especially chronic health effects that can manifest themselves clinically; the extent of the biological damage is linked to various variables, including: chemical nature of the contaminant, methods of exposure, quantity of contaminant present, duration of exposure, individual genetic factors.

Chromium and various plant protection products are carcinogenic. Lead is particularly dangerous for young children, in whom there is a high risk of developing brain and nervous system damage, while more generally the risk is related to kidney damage. Mercury and cyclodiene are also known to induce a higher incidence of renal damage, sometimes irreversible.