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Chemosphere. 2011 Dec;85(11):1682-6. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.08.009. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Triclosan in individual human milk samples from Australia.

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National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology (Entox), The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Triclosan is a chlorinated phenol ether that has been in widespread use as a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent for four decades. When compared to the limited international data available on human body burden of triclosan, results from a pooled blood study suggested that triclosan concentrations in Australia were a factor two higher than observed in Sweden. This study determined triclosan levels in individual human milk samples (n=151) collected between 2002 and 2005 from primiparous Australian mothers. It provided the first report of population triclosan levels and individual variation in Australia and gave a measure of infant exposure via breast feeding. The distribution of triclosan concentration was positively skewed, with 7.2% of the samples below the LOQ, 66% with a concentration of less than or equal to 1.0 ng g(-1)fresh weight and the remaining samples above 1 ng g(-1) reaching a maximum concentration of 19 ng g(-1)fresh weight. The mean and median triclosan concentrations were 1.3±2.7 ng g(-1)f.w. and 0.26 ng g(-1)f.w., respectively. The results of this study showed high variability in triclosan concentrations between individuals and no correlations with maternal age (p=0.094), maternal weight (p=0.971) or infant age at the time of sample collection (p=0.621). A large number of samples contained low or non-quantifiable concentrations of triclosan and so, in Australia, ubiquitous background exposure due to environmental sources is low. This means that body burden can be influenced by an individual's use of triclosan containing product. Given that triclosan containing product use is continuing, it is important that monitoring in both humans and the environment is continued and that triclosan containing products are adequately labeled so that an individual can choose to avoid exposure.

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