Journal of Environment Pollution and Human Health
ISSN (Print): 2334-3397 ISSN (Online): 2334-3494 Website: Editor-in-chief: Dibyendu Banerjee
Open Access
Journal Browser
Journal of Environment Pollution and Human Health. 2018, 6(3), 77-88
DOI: 10.12691/jephh-6-3-1
Open AccessReview Article

Environmental Xenobiotics and Their Adverse Health Impacts-A General Review

Desta Dirbeba Dinka1,

1Department of Chemistry, Dire Dawa University, Ethiopia

Pub. Date: June 13, 2018

Cite this paper:
Desta Dirbeba Dinka. Environmental Xenobiotics and Their Adverse Health Impacts-A General Review. Journal of Environment Pollution and Human Health. 2018; 6(3):77-88. doi: 10.12691/jephh-6-3-1


Environmental xenobiotics are any chemicals of synthetic origin which are not normally expected to present in an organism. There are several environmental xenobiotics that impose adverse impacts both on ecology and human beings. Pesticides, toxic heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls and persistent organic pollutants are environmental xenobiotics for which there are ample scientific evidences showing the obnoxious health impacts that these chemicals are imposing on humans. Neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicicty and cancer are the most frequently mentioned among the numerous health problems associated with environmental xenobiotics. However, their potential toxicities and possible routes of exposure to them are less known by general public. As a result, in this paper an attempt of critically reviewing existing literatures was made so as to support upcoming future studies on the health impacts of xenobiotics so that the results of such study can address the problem on the ground. Consequently, this paper briefly addresses several specific xenobiotic chemicals; routes of exposure and chronic effects of exposure to them.

environmental xenobiotic health impact pesticide toxic heavy metal and persistent organic pollutants

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Bulucea CA, Rosen MA, Mastorakis NE, Bulucea CA and Brindusa CC (2012). Approaching Resonant Absorption of Environmental Xenobiotics Harmonic Oscillation by Linear Structures. Sustainability, 4, 561-573.
[2]  Banerjee B D, Chakraboti A, Suke SG, Ahmed R S and Tripathi AK. (2008). Xenobiotic-induced Immune Alterations: Implications in Health and Disease, Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 45, 7-15.
[3]  Jaffe R. (2005). Xenobiotics: Managing Toxic Metals, Biocides, Hormone Mimics, Solvents and Chemical Disruptors, DK6006-C029.qxd
[4]  Eugine M. and Vincent T. (2016). Prevalence of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Blantyre – Malawi, American Journal of Environmental Protection,4(3), 61-66.
[5]  Wu RS. (1999). Eutrophication, Water Borne Pathogens and Xenobiotic Compounds: Environmental Risks and Challenges, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 39, 11-22, 1999.
[6]  El-Saad AA. and Elgerbed AS. (2010). Dimethoate-Induced Hepatotoxicity in Rats and The Protective Roles of Vitamin E and N-Acetylcysteine, Egyp. J. Exp. Biol. (Zool.), 6(2), 219-230.
[7]  Cataudella E, Malaguarnera G, Gagliano C, Condorelli G, Antic T, Rampello L, Erdogan O, Rampello L, Malaguarnera M. (2012). Pesticides Exposure and the Management of Acute Hepatic Injury, Acta Medica Mediterranea, 28,245-252.
[8]  Ahlborg U, Hanberg A and Kenne K. (1992). Risk Assessment of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Institute of Environmental Medicine Stockholm, Sweden
[9]  Anetor JI, Anetor GO. Iyanda AA, Adeniyi FAA. (2008). Environmental Chemicals and Human Neurotoxicity: Magnitude, Prognosis and Markers, African Journal of Biomedical Research, 11, 1-12.
[10]  Neal AP and Guilarte TR. (2012). Mechanisms of Heavy Metal Neurotoxicity: Lead and Manganese. J Drug Metab Toxicol S5:002.
[11]  Rosas LG and Eskenazi B. (2008). Pesticides and child neurodevelopment. Curr Opin Pediatr 20, 191-197.
[12]  Descamps CM and Deschamps F. (2012). Nervous system disorders induced by occupational and environmental toxic exposure, Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2(3), 272-278.
[13]  Julvez J and Grandjean P. (2009). Neurodevelopmental Toxicity Risks Due to Occupational Exposure to Industrial Chemicals during Pregnancy, Industrial Health, 47, 459-468.
[14]  Soderland P, Lovekar S, Weiner DE, Brooks DR and Kaufma JS. (2010). Chronic Kidney Disease Associated With Environmental Toxins and Exposures, Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease 17(3), 254-264.
[15]  Garcia FP, Ascencio SC, Oyarzun JG, Hernandez AC and Alavarado PV. (2012). Pesticides: classification, uses and toxicity. Measures of exposure and genotoxic risks, Journal of Research in Environmental Science and Toxicology, 1(11), 279-293.
[16]  Singh N, Gupta VK, Kumar A and Sharma B. (2017). Synergistic Effects of Heavy Metals and Pesticides in Living Systems; Frontiers in Chemistry 5, 1-9.
[17]  Ozaydin F N (2017). Xenobiotics and Chronic disease, Journal Toxicology 1(4), 1-2.
[18]  Bonde JP and Giwercman A. (2014). Environmental xenobiotics and male reproductive Health, Asian Journal of Andrology, 16, 3-4.
[19]  Kim NH, Hyun YY, Lee KB, Rhu S, Kook-Hwan KH, and Ahn C. (2015). Environmental Heavy Metal Exposure and Chronic Kidney Disease in the General Population J Korean Med Sci, 30: 272-277.
[20]  Sarah E. Orr SE. and Bridges CC. (2017). Chronic Kidney Disease and Exposure to Nephrotoxic Metals-review, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18, 1-35.
[21]  Voss JU, Roller M and Mangelsdorf I. (2003). Nephrotoxicity of Organic Solvents _ Evaluation of the Literature, Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Germany, Berlin.
[22]  Shamaan NA. (2005). Biochemistry of xenobiotics towards a healthy lifestyle and safe environment, Penerbit Universiti Putra Malaysia,
[23]  Abdulhamid Z., Agbaji E. B., Gimba C.E., and Agbaji S.A. (2015). Determination of Organochlorine and Pyrethroid Pesticide Residues in Some Vegetables by QuEChERS Method and Gas Chromatography Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry. IOSR Journal of Environmental Science, Toxicology and Food Technology. 9, 14-20.
[24]  Eason CT, Fagerstone KA., Eisemann., Humphrys S., Jeanette R. and Lapidge SJ. (2010). A review of existing and potential New World and Australasian vertebrate pesticides with a rationale for linking use patterns to registration requirements, International Journal of Pest Management,56(2), 109-125.
[25]  Sande D, Mullen J, Wetzstein M and Houston J. (2011). Environmental Impacts from Pesticide Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 8, 4649-4661.
[26]  Agrawal A. and Sharma B. (2010). Pesticides induced oxidative stress in mammalian systems, .International Journal of Biological & Medical Research, 1(3), 90-104.
[27]  World Health Organization. (WHO, 2011). Arsenic in Drinking-water: Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality, World Health Organization 2011
[28]  Stoytcheva M. (2011) .The Impacts of Pesticide Exposure, 1st edition, INTECH Open Access Publisher, Croatia,
[29]  World Health Organization (WHO, 2008). Children's Health and the Environment: WHO Training Package for the Health Sector,
[30]  Nosiri CI, Okereke, SC Arunsi, U.O., Chujor OO and Nwaogwugwo JC. (2017). Hepatotoxicity of Pirimiphos-Methyl on Wistar Rats. OSR Journal of Environmental Science, Toxicology and Food Technology 11(4), 88-93.
[31]  Pandey RM (2008). Cytotoxic Effects of Pesticide in Somatic Cells of Vicia Faba L. National Botanical Research Institute, ІSSN 0564-3783, № 6, India.
[32]  Asita, A.O. and Hatane B. H. (2012). Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of some agropesticides used in Southern Africa, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences, 4(10), 175-184.
[33]  Roberts JR. and Reigart JR. (2013). Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings 6th Edition., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC 20460.
[34]  Jaishankar M., Tseten T., Anbalagan N., Mathew BB., Beeregowda KN (2014). Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdisc Toxicol 7(2): 60-72.
[35]  Kleanthi G., KaterinaL., Evaggelia P.and Andreas L. (2008). Mechanisms of Actions and Health Effects of Organochlorine Substances: A Review; Hsj -Health Science Journal, 2,(2), 89-98.
[36]  Lozowicka B., Kaczynski P., Paritova A.E., Kuzembekova GB., Abzhalieva AB, Sarsembayeva N.B and Alihan K. (2014). Pesticide residues in grain from Kazakhstan and potential health risks associated with exposure to detected pesticides, Food and Chemical Toxicology 64, 238-248.
[37]  World Health Organization (2004). DDT and its Derivatives in Drinking-water: Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality.
[38]  Jaga K. and Dharmani C. (2003). Global Surveillance of DDT and DDE Levels in Human Tissues, International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 2003; 16(1): 7-20.
[39]  Silva MH. And Gammon D. (2009). An assessment of the developmental, reproductive and neurotoxicity of endosulfan. Birth Defects Research Part B: Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology; 86: 1-28.
[40]  Taylor J., Hana R., Mumtaz M., Ruiz P., Llados F., Hard C, Rudisill C., Citra M. (2015). Toxicological Profile for Endosulfan, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), 1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-57, Atlanta, Georgia 30329-4027.
[41]  Silva MA and Beauvais SL. (2010). Human health risk Assessment of Endosulfan: Toxicology and hard Identification, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 56, 4-17.
[42]  Amizadeh M. and Saryazdi G A. (2011). Effects of Endosulfan on Human Health, Webmedcentral Toxicology, 2(12), 1-9; WMC00261.
[43]  Mor F.and Ozmen O. (2003). Acute endosulfan poisoning in cattle. Veterinary and Human Toxicology, 45(6): 323-324.
[44]  Caglar, Y., Kaya, M., Belge, E., Mete, U.O. (2003). Ultrastructural evaluation of the effect of endosulfan on mice kidney. Histology and Histopathology, 18: 703-708.
[45]  Hatipoglu, F.S., Ozmen, O., Ata, A., Ileri-Buyukoglu, T., Sahinduran, S., Mor, F., Yildiz- Gulay, O., Gulay, M.S. (2009). Ameliorating effect of ascorbic acid on subacute endosulfan toxicity in male New Zealand White rabbits. Journal of Animal Science, 87(2).
[46]  Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR, 2015). Public Health Statement: Endosulfan,1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-57, Atlanta, Georgia 30329-4027.
[47]  Kazemi M, Tahmasbi AM. ValizadehR, Naserian A.A and Soni A. (2012). Organophosphate pesticides: A general review, Agricultural Science Research Journals, 2(9), 512-522
[48]  Pakldy A, Puskas N, Vincze K, Hadhazi M. (1987). Cytogenetic studies on rural populations exposed to pesticides. Mutat. Res., 187: 127-132.
[49]  Malghani S., Chatterjee N., Xue YH and Luo Z. (2009). Isolation and Identification of Profenofos Degrading Bacteria, Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, 40, 893-900.
[50]  Shaik AS, Shaik AP, Kaiser Jamil K and Alsaeed AH (2016). Evaluation of cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of pesticide mixtures on lymphocytes, Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods.
[51]  Fishel FM. (2014). Pesticide Toxicity Profile: Carbamate Pesticides U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida.
[52]  Stefanova-Wilbur M. (2015). Estimation of Exposure of Persons in California to Pesticide Products That Contain: Methomyl.
[53]  El-Fakharany I., Massoud AH., Derbalah AS. and Allah MS. (2011). Toxicological effects of methomyl and remediation technologies of its residues in an aquatic system, Journal of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, 3(13), 332-339.
[54]  Chowdhury AZ., Banik S., Uddin B, Moniruzzaman M, Karim N and Siew Gan SH. (2012). Organophosphorus and Carbamate Pesticide Residues Detected in Water Samples Collected from Paddy and Vegetable Fields of the Savar and Dhamrai Upazilas in Bangladesh, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health9, 3318-3329.
[55]  Yahaya M., Ezeh G., Musa Y. and Mohammad S. (2010). Analysis of heavy metal concentration in road side soil in Yauri, Nigeria. African Journal of Pure and Applied Chemistry, 4, 22-30.
[56]  Hina B., Hafeez G., and Naseem S. (2011). Determination of toxic metals in some herbal drugs through atomic absorption spectroscopy. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 24, 353-358.
[57]  Gebre A. (2011). Level of essential and non-essential metals in gesho (Rhamnus prinoides) cultivated in Ethiopia. M.Sc. thesis, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, pp 1-63.
[58]  Tam NY. and Wong YS. (2000). Spatial variation of Heavy metals in surface sediments of Hong Kong mangrove swamps. Journal of Environmental Pollution, 110(2), 195-205.
[59]  Goyer R Golub M, Choudhury H,Michael Hughes M, Kenyon E, Stifelman M. (2004). Issue Paper on Human Health Effects of Metals, EPA, USA, 2004.
[60]  Tan F, Min M, Wang W, Aguirre AA. and Lu Y. (2010). Validation of an in vitro cytotoxicity test for four heavy metals using cell lines derived from a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) Cell , Biol Toxicol (2010) 26, 255-263.
[61]  Krishna PV, Jyothirmayi V and Rao KM. (2014). Human health risk assessment of heavy metal accumulation through fish consumption, from Machilipatnam Coast, Andhra Pradesh, India, International Research Journal of Public and Environmental Health, 1(5) 121-125.
[62]  Dinis ML and Fiuza A. (2011). Exposure Assessment to Heavy Metals in the Environment: Measures to Eliminate or Reduce the Exposure to Critical Receptors, Risk Assessment and Prevention Strategies.
[63]  EPA (2009), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury Human Exposure: hg/exposure.htm.
[64]  Gonick HC (2008). Nephrotoxicity of cadmium and lead-Review Article. Indian J Med Res 128, 335-352.
[65]  UNEP, United Nations Environment Programme (2008), Heavy Metals:
[66]  Zhai Q, Narbad A and Chen W (2015). Dietary Strategies for the Treatment of Cadmium and Lead Toxicity .Nutrients, 7, 552-571.
[67]  Ivanova E, Staykova T and Velcheva I. (2008). Cytotoxicity and Genotoxicity of Heavy Metal and Cyanide-Contaminated Waters in Some Regions for Production and Processing of Ore In Bulgaria, Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 14 (2) 262-268.
[68]  WHO. (2001). Arsenic and arsenic compounds. International Programme on Chemical Safety, WHO, Geneva.
[69]  IARC. (2004). Some drinking-water disinfectants and contaminants, including arsenic, IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risks Hum 84: 1-477.
[70]  Arya A., Arya S. and Arya M. (2011). Chemical Carcinogen and Cancer Risk: An overview.Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 3(5), 621-631.
[71]  IIARC. (2012). Arsenic, metals, fibres, and dusts." IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risks Hum 100(Pt C): 11-465.
[72]  Ferrario D. (2009). In vitro Assessment of Arsenic Immune Toxicity using Human Cord Blood and Murine Bone Marrow Cells, pH thesis, University of Konstanz, Germany.
[73]  Wang A., Holladay S.D., Wolf DC., Ahmed S.A., Robertson JL. (2006). Reproductive and developmental toxicity of arsenic in rodents: a review. Int J Toxicol. 25, 319-331.
[74]  Huy TB., Tuyet-Hanh TT., Johnston R. and Nguyen-Viet H. (2014). Assessing Health Risk due to Exposure to Arsenic in Drinking Water in Hanam Province, Vietnam. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11, 7575-7591.
[75]  Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR, 2007). Toxicological Profile for Arsenic (Update). U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA. 2007.
[76]  Hornbuckle K. and Robertson L. (2010). Polychlorinated Biphenyls: Sources, Exposures, Toxicities. University of Iowa, April 15, 2010 / Environmental Science & Technology 92751
[77]  Simon T., Britt JK. and James RC(2007). Development of a neurotoxic equivalence scheme of relative potency for assessing the risk of PCB mixtures. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 48 (2):148-70.
[78]  Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR, 2000). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service,1600 Clifton Road NE, E-29 Atlanta, Georgia 30333.
[79]  EPA (2010), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Basic Information: Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB),
[80]  EPA(1979), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency . EPA Bans PCB Manufacture; Phases Out Uses.
[81]  Negri E., Bosetti C., Fattore E., La Vecchia C.. Environmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and breast cancer: a systematic review of the epidemiological evidence. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2003 ; 12(6): 509-516.
[82]  Rogan WJ, Gladen BC, Hung KL, Koong, Shih SY, Taylor JS, Wu YC, Yang D, Ragan NB, and Hsu CC. (1988). Congenital poisoning by polychlorinated biphenyls and their contaminants in Taiwan. Science 241 (4863):334-6.
[83]  Lai TX. Liu, YL. Guo NW. Guo ML, Hsu YC and Rogan WJ. (2002). A cohort study of behavioral problems and intelligence in children with high prenatal polychlorinated biphenyl exposure. Archives of General Psychiatry 59 (11):1061-6.
[84]  Chen YJ., and Hsu CCC. (1994). Effects of prenatal exposure to PCBs on the neurological function of children: a neuropsychological and neurophysiological study. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 36 (4):312-20.
[85]  Lau H.Y. M. (2009). Environmental Impacts and Management of Persistent Organic Pollutants in South China. MSc.thesis. The University of Hong Kong.
[86]  United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP. 2005). A guide to the Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutant.
[87]  Brody J. and Rudel R. Environmental pollutants and breast cancer. Environmental Health Perspectives 2003; 111(8): 1007-1019.
[88]  Alexander J., Hetland RB, Vikse R., Dybing E., Eriksen GS., Farstad W., Jenssen BM., Paulsen JE., Skåre JU., Steffensen IL. and Ovrebo S(2008). Combined Toxic Effects of Multiple Chemical Exposures. Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety.VKM Report 2008: 16.
[89]  Larsen JC. (2003). Combined Actions and Interactions of Chemicals in Mixtures: The Toxicological Effects of Exposure to Mixtures of Industrial and Environmental Chemicals, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration 2003.
[90]  Mullin CA, Fine JD, Reynolds RD and Frazier MT. (2016). Toxicological Risks of Agrochemical Spray Adjuvants: Organosilicone Surfactants May Not Be Safe. Frontiers Public Health 4, 1-8.
[91]  Mesnage R, Defarge N, de Vendomois JS. and Seralini GE (2014). Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells than Their Declared Active Principles, 2014, 1-9.
[92]  Surgan M, Condon M. and Cox C. (2010). Pesticide risk indicators: unidentified inert ingredients compromise their integrity and utility. Environmental Management, 45(4): 834-841.