Comparison of PCB congeners and pesticide levels between serum and milk from lactating women

Environ Res. 1999 Apr;80(3):280-6. doi: 10.1006/enrs.1999.3956.


Samples of blood and milk were obtained from lactating women participating in the New York State Angler study. A total of seven women gave one blood and one milk sample at time intervals between blood and milk collection different for each woman. The time between samples varied from 3 to 318 days. One subject provided a second milk sample 219 days after the first milk sample. The samples were analyzed for 69 PCB congeners, DDE (a metabolite of DDT), Mirex, and hexachlorobenzene (HCB). Lipid content was determined by gravimetric analysis. The congener profiles in serum and milk were similar for each individual but different among all subjects. The sum of the concentrations of the congeners present above the limit of detection was used to estimate the total PCB concentration that was in the range of 2.6 to 5.8 ng/g of serum and 3.5 to 14.1 ng/g of milk. The ratio of serum to milk concentrations varied from 0.18 to 1.66 with a mean of 0.65+/-0.49 showing no consistency among individuals prior to adjusting the data for lipid content. The total PCB levels normalized for lipid content were 320-728 ng/g of serum lipid and 239-428 ng/g of milk lipid. The range of the lipid adjusted serum/milk ratio was 1.1 to 2.8 and the mean+/-SD serum/milk ratio was 1.9+/-0.5. The ranges of lipid adjusted serum concentration of DDE, HCB, and Mirex were 95 to 591, 8 to 48, and 3 to 29 ng/g lipid, respectively. The ranges of lipid adjusted milk concentration of DDE, HCB, and Mirex were 90 to 577, 11 to 22, and 1 to 10 ng/g lipid, respectively. For DDE, HCB, and Mirex, the means of the individual lipid adjusted serum to milk ratios were 1.5+/-0.7, 2.5+/-1.5, and 5. 3+/-4.6, respectively. Considerable differences were found among lipid adjusted concentrations of these environmental pollutants in serum and milk samples from the same individual. This suggests that body burden estimates in lactating women using different matrices may not be equivalent even when lipid adjusted values are used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Burden
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / analysis
  • Diet
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Hexachlorobenzene / analysis
  • Humans
  • Lactation / blood*
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Mirex / analysis
  • New York
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Seafood


  • Lipids
  • Pesticides
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Mirex