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Sci Total Environ. 2007 Jun 1;378(3):281-92. Epub 2007 Apr 3.

PCBs and OCPs in human milk and selected foods from Luqiao and Pingqiao in Zhejiang, China.

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State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, 430072, China.


This study was conducted to measure the levels of 23 PCB congeners and 6 organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in human milk and three food types collected from Luqiao and Pingqiao in Zhejiang Province, China. An effort was also made to explore the potential health risk for the mothers and breast-fed infants living in these two localities. Luqiao was selected as the sampling site because it is the largest place for the disassembly of obsolete transformers and electrical waste in China. Pingqiao, located 100 km NW of Luqiao, is not known to be a place for any electronic or electrical waste and hence was chosen as the control site. Both localities are important agricultural places in the province. The organochlorines were measured in the samples using the GC-muECD technique. Micro-EROD bioassay method was also used as a complement of the chemical analysis to estimate the TEQ levels of dioxin-like PCBs in human milk. The data showed that the human milk, rice, hen egg, and fish samples from Luqiao were more heavily contaminated with PCBs than those from Pingqiao, suggesting that the mothers and their breast-fed infants in Luqiao tended to receive greater exposure to PCBs than those living in Pingqiao. The OCP levels in the two localities were found comparable, suggesting that the major source of contamination with these pesticides was from their agricultural uses. Significant correlation (R2 = 0.87, P<0.001) of PCB TEQs was found between the bioassay and chemical analysis method, suggesting that micro-EROD is an effective method for comprehensive determination of TEQ levels in human milk. Comparison with literature data showed that the PCB levels in milk samples from Luqiao were significantly higher than those from localities in other Chinese provinces and comparable to those in developed or industrialized countries.

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