• Dietary intake;
  • Dioxin-like PCBs;
  • General population;
  • PCDDs;
  • PCDFs


This study deals with an assessment of dietary exposure to polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorodibenzofurans (PCDFs), and dioxin-like polychlorobiphenyls (DL-PCBs) for the Italian general population, obtained by combining data from a national food consumption survey with contamination concentrations of European foodstuffs available on the market. The distribution of PCDD, PCDF, and DL-PCB dietary intake(s) in the Italian population was investigated to assess to what extent the variability in dietary habits may cause higher exposures to the previously mentioned contaminants. Results indicate that the main contributions to total PCDD, PCDF, and DL-PCB intake are due to fish and fish products (44%) and to milk and dairy products (27%). The mean PCDD, PCDF, and DL-PCB intake (total toxic equivalents) via food was estimated 5.34, 3.37, and 2.28 pg World Health Organization (WHO)-TE/kg of body weight (kg-bw) per day for the three age groups 0–6 (breastfeeding excluded), 7–12, and 13–94 years old, respectively. The highest exposures due to variation in dietary habits are in general within a factor of 2–3. From the mean exposure estimated for the general population (adults), it can be inferred that a consistent part of it would exceed the tolerable daily intake of 2 pg WHO-TE/kg-bw adopted by the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission in 2001.