Analysis of human milk to assess exposure to PAHs, PCBs and organochlorine pesticides in the vicinity Mediterranean city Mersin, Turkey

Environ Int. 2012 Apr:40:63-69. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2011.11.012. Epub 2011 Dec 31.


Assessment of human exposure to environmental persistent organic pollutants such as organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/furans (PCDD/Fs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) based on the levels in human breast milk provides a reasonable tool not only to assess the contaminant burden in mothers but also to assess potential exposure of breast-fed neonates. There are limited data on levels of PCBs and OCPs in humans but no previous reports from Turkey on chemically determined levels PAHs in human milk. The aim of this study was to report the levels and accumulation profiles of OCPs, PCBs and PAHs in 47 breast milk samples obtained from a Mediterranean city, Mersin. High resolution analyses were performed by a gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometer (GC-MS). Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (4.4'-DDE) was the dominant pollutant. Beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (ß-HCH), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (4.4'-DDT), dieldrin, hexachlorobenzene, oxy-chlordane, cis-heptachlorepoxide were the other main OCPs detected. Mean levels of ΣPCB congeners and WHO(PCB)-TEQ were 9.94 and 0.001 ng/g lipid, respectively. PCB 153 showed the highest concentration (3.37 ng/g lipid), followed by PCB 138 and 180. For the dioxin-like PCBs, PCB 118 was the dominant (0.97 ng/g lipid). Naphthalene, phenanthrene, pyrene and fluoranthene were the major PAHs among the 16 PAHs detected. The estimated daily intakes of DDTs, PCBs, HCHs and HCB were not exceeded the tolerable daily intake (TDI) proposed by the Health Canada Guideline. These results indicate that the neonates of Mersin city are exposed to persistent organic pollutants analyzed in this study. However, neonates born in Mersin province are less exposed than the ones born in other regions, considering OCP and PCB levels in breast milk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Chlordan / analysis
  • Chlordan / metabolism
  • DDT / analysis
  • DDT / metabolism
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / analysis
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / metabolism
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Environmental Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hexachlorobenzene / analysis
  • Hexachlorobenzene / metabolism
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane / analysis
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / metabolism*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Pesticides / analysis
  • Pesticides / metabolism*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / metabolism
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / metabolism*
  • Turkey
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Chlordan
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane
  • DDT
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • beta-hexachlorocyclohexane