Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and organochlorine pesticides in human breast milk from Massachusetts, USA

J Environ Monit. 2007 Nov;9(11):1205-12. doi: 10.1039/b711409p. Epub 2007 Aug 10.


Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs; DDTs, HCHs, CHLs, and HCB) were measured in human breast milk samples collected across Massachusetts, USA, in 2004. Seventeen PBDE congeners were found in the samples, ranging in concentration from 0.06 to 1910 ng g(-1) lipid wt. BDE-47 (2,2',4,4'-tetraBDE), BDE-99 (2,2',4,4',5-pentaBDE), and BDE-100 (2,2',4,4',6-pentaBDE) were the major congeners detected in breast milk samples. Overall mean (+/-SD) concentrations of DDTs, HCHs, CHLs, and HCB were 64.5 +/- 75, 18.9 +/- 19, 32.4 +/- 36, and 2.3 +/- 2.2 ng g(-1) lipid wt, respectively. Concentrations of PBDEs were strongly correlated with concentrations of OCPs in the samples. Based on the concentrations of organohalogens and the intake rates of breast milk by infants in the United States, daily ingestion rates of contaminants were calculated. The median ingestion rates for PBDEs, HCHs, DDTs, CHLs, and HCB were 4.0, 212, 141, 44, and 5.79 ng kg(-1) body wt day(-1), respectively. The estimated daily intake of organohalogens by infants was compared with threshold reference values suggested by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), for calculation of hazard quotients (HQs). HQs for individual organohalogens and the sum of HQ for all organohalogens were calculated as HQ indices (HQI). The results suggest that one or more of the contaminants analyzed in this study exceeded the threshold reference values in at least 26% of the breast milk samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Quality Control
  • United States
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls