Changes in concentrations of perfluorinated compounds, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and polychlorinated biphenyls in Norwegian breast-milk during twelve months of lactation

Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Dec 15;44(24):9550-6. doi: 10.1021/es1021922. Epub 2010 Nov 23.


At present, scientific knowledge on depuration rates of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is limited and the previous assumptions of considerable reduction of body burdens through breast-feeding have recently been challenged. We therefore studied elimination rates of important POPs in nine Norwegian primiparous mothers and one mother breast-feeding her second child by collecting breast-milk samples (n = 70) monthly from about two weeks to up to twelve months after birth. Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were determined in the breast-milk samples. Linear mixed effect models were established for selected compounds, and significant decreases in the range of 1.2-4.7% in breast-milk concentrations per month were observed for a wide range of PCBs and PBDEs. For the first time, depuration rates for perfluorooctylsulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are presented, being 3.8 and 7.8% per month, respectively (p < 0.05). The relative amount of the branched PFOS isomers in the breast-milk samples was 18% on average (range 6-36%, RSD 30%). There were no significant differences in isomer pattern between the mothers, or changes during the lactation period. After a year of nursing the breast-milk concentrations of PFCs, PBDEs, and PCBs were reduced by 15-94%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / metabolism
  • Breast Feeding
  • Caprylates / metabolism
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / metabolism
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / metabolism*
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Mothers
  • Norway
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism*


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls