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Chemosphere. 2008 Nov;73(10):1661-8. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.07.088. Epub 2008 Oct 1.

Levels and congener specific profiles of PBDEs in human breast milk from China: implication on exposure sources and pathways.

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  • 1Center for Marine Environmental Studies, Ehime University, Matsuyama, Japan.


Fourteen PBDE congeners from mono- to deca-BDE were determined in breast milk of primiparous mothers from two locations in East China, i.e. Nanjing (n=9), an urban area, and Zhoushan (n=10), a semi rural coastal area. PBDEs were detected in all the human breast milk samples of the present study, indicating that general population in these two locations are widely exposed to these pollutants. Relatively higher concentrations of PBDEs were found in the milk of mothers from Nanjing than Zhoushan, suggesting the existence of significant sources of PBDEs in urban areas. PBDE levels in the present study were similar to those in European countries, but one or two orders of magnitude lower than in North America. Except for BDE-3, all congeners from di- to deca-BDE were detected in the samples of the present study. BDE-209, a congener considered to have less bioavailability, was detected in about 50% of the samples at concentrations higher than that of other congeners. Other higher brominated congeners, such as BDE-153, -197 and -207, were also prominent in the present study, which is different from the pattern generally observed in previous studies on human milk as well as biota samples. These results may indicate that the inhabitants of Nanjing and Zhoushan are exposed to location specific sources of PBDEs.

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