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Chemosphere. 2007 Apr;67(9):S301-6. Epub 2007 Jan 25.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in milk from Italian women living in Rome and Venice.

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  • 1Toxicological Chemistry Unit, Department of the Environment and Primary Prevention, Istituto Superiore di Sanitá, 00161 Rome, Italy.


The levels of selected polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were measured in human milk samples from the areas of Venice and Rome, primarily in order to characterize the current levels of infant exposure to PCBs and PBDEs due to breast feeding in Italy. Sixteen non-dioxin-like PCBs, including the traditional indicator congeners, and 11 PBDEs, comprising the relevant PBDE-47, PBDE-99, and PBDE-153, were determined. Congeners were selected for analysis according to their relative abundance in human tissues, toxicological relevance, and diffusion in the environment. Dietary habits of the milk donors were recorded by questionnaires; mothers of the Venice area were classified into three groups according to their consumption of local fish, molluscs, and other fishery products. Sigma(16)(PCBs) and Sigma(11)(PBDEs) (ng g(-1) fat) for the areas of Venice and Rome were respectively, 250-390 and 240, and 1.6-2.8 and 4.1. An increase of fish and fishery product consumption could not be associated with an increase of PCB and PBDE levels in milk.

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