The main objective of the project AgroPOP consists in improving the food quality, regarding the contamination by PCB. To achieve this objective, the following goals are targeted:
(i) investigate the contamination by PCB of beef and veal meat, cow milk and dairy products, as well as the feed (grass and feed) and the surrounding environment (air, atmospheric deposition, and soil) in selected Swiss farms;
(ii) identify the most important entry pathways of PCB into Swiss farming products;
(iii) understand qualitatively and quantitatively the accumulation process of PCB in cattle;
(iv) derive recommendations for best agricultural practices leading to a reduction of the contamination of meat, milk and farming products by PCB;
(v) contribute to an added value and conservation of the good reputation of Swiss farming products, especially from proper housing farms.
The scope of the project AgroPOP is defined by the fate of PCB from their initial source into the environment to their accumulation in biota and the human body (Figure 4). Whereas many research, including the applicants’ own studies, have focused on emissions of PCB into the environment and their fate between the different environmental compartments (left part of Figure 4) (Schmid et al., 2003; Schmid et al., 2005; Schmid et al., 2007; Zennegg et al., 2007; Kohler et al., 2008; Bogdal et al., 2010b; Bogdal et al., 2014; Diefenbacher et al., 2015; Glüge et al., 2016), a substantial lack of knowledge remains regarding their uptake by cattle, transfer via milk to suckling calves, and finally their accumulation in humans high up in the food chain (Schuler et al., 1997a, b). The project AgroPOP aims at filling this gap by studying the accumulation process of PCB in the Swiss food chain (right part of Figure 4), assessing the magnitude of the PCB contamination today and in the future, and based on the gained knowledge, derive recommendations for a reduction of the PCB contamination in Swiss farming products and the human exposure to PCB.