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Environ Monit Assess. 2017 Feb;189(2):59. doi: 10.1007/s10661-017-5768-y. Epub 2017 Jan 14.

Levels of persistent organic pollutants in breast milk of Maya women in Yucatan, Mexico.

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Social Medicine and Public Health Department, Regional Research Center "Dr. Hideyo Noguchi", Autonomous University of Yucatán, Av. Itzáes No. 490 x 59, 97000, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico.
UNESCO/UNITWIN-WiCoP. Physical Chemistry Department. Faculty of Environmental and Marine Sciences, University of Cadiz, Puerto Real, 11510, Cadiz, Spain.
Laboratory of Chromatography. Faculty of Chemistry, Autonomous University of Yucatán, C. 43 No. 613 x C. 90 Col. Inalámbrica. C.P. 97069, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico.
Environmental Impact Assessment Division, Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology, Post Box - 83, Mundra Road, Opp. Changleshwar Temple, Bhuj, Gujarat, 370001, India.
Departamento de Neurociencias, Centro de Investigaciones Regionales "Dr. Hideyo Noguchi", Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Av. Itzáes No. 490 x 59, 97000, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico.


In this study, 24 breast milk samples, obtained from rural Maya women, from municipalities of Yucatan, Mexico, were analyzed for organochlorine pesticide (OCP) residues by gas chromatography. Recent studies have shown that Maya communities have a poor perception about the proper usage and handling of OCP. The karstic soil in this area has a high vulnerability to groundwater pollution by the use of OCP in agriculture and livestock activities. The impact of the ecosystem on human health is much more critical due to the prevailing poverty and a very low educational level of these communities. About 30% of the Maya population consumes water directly from contaminated wells and sinkholes, resulting in a chronic exposure to OCP. The samples served to identify and quantify high levels of OCP residues (18.43 mg/kg of heptachlor epoxide and 1.92 mg/kg of endrin in the metropolitan zone; 2.10 mg/kg of dieldrin, 0.117 mg/kg of endosulfan II, 0.103 mg/kg of heptachlor, 0.178 mg/kg of endrin, and 0.127 mg/kg of endrin aldehyde in the main agricultural zone and on the west coast). The detected levels of OCP residues are a major concern and represent a potential risk to women and children in the region. This could be associated with the high rates of cervical uterine and breast cancer mortality in Yucatan. Thus, regulations on the usage of OCP and their enforcement are necessary, and it is important to establish a yearly monitoring program for OCP residues in breast milk and groundwater, as well as to implement health promotion programs for women in particular and the general population in general.


Biomonitoring; Breast milk; Karstic aquifer; Pesticides; Pollution

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