People and animals are mainly exposed to POPs through contaminated foods. Less common exposure routes include drinking contaminated water and direct contact with the chemicals. Additionally, in mammals, POPs can be transferred through the placenta and breast milk to developing offspring.
These early stages of life are when organs develop the most quickly, which means they are at their most vulnerable. Effects of POPs during childhood may not manifest until later in their lives, at which point they could suffer from reproductive, developmental, behavioral, neurologic, endocrine, and/or immunologic adverse health effects.