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Environ Res. 2008 Jan;106(1):17-26. Epub 2007 Oct 10.

Accumulation of persistent organochlorine contaminants in milk and serum of farmers from Ghana.

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  • 1CSIR Water Research Institute, P.O. Box AH 38, Achimota, Ghana.


In the present study, the concentrations of persistent organochlorine (OC) pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and its metabolites (DDTs), hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and dieldrin in pooled samples of human breast milk (n=109), and serum (n=115) from vegetable farmers in Ghana, during 2005, were determined. Gas chromatography with mass spectrometry was used to quantify residue levels on a lipid basis of the OCs. The pattern of OCs in human fluid showed that DDTs was consistently the prevalent OC in milk and blood. The levels of DDTs, HCHs, and dieldrin in the breast milk samples were found to correlate positively with age of the milk sample donors (r(s)=0.606, 0.770, and 0.540, respectively). When blood serum levels of the OCs were compared between male and female farmers, no pronounced relationship for HCHs and HCB (p>0.05) was observed. However, DDTs and dieldrin residues were significantly higher (p<0.05) in males than in females. There was association between breast milk and serum residues. When daily intakes of DDTs and HCHs to infants through human breast milk were estimated, some individual farmers (in the case of DDTs) and all farmers (in the case of HCHs) accumulated OCs in breast milk above the threshold (tolerable daily intake, TDI, guidelines proposed by Health Canada) for adverse effects, which may raise concern on children health.

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