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Environ Res. 2017 Apr;154:425-434. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.01.031. Epub 2017 Feb 11.

Organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in human breast milk and associated health risks to nursing infants in Northern Tanzania.

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Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Campus Adamstuen, P.O. Box 8146 Dep, N- 0033, Oslo, Norway. Electronic address:
Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Campus Adamstuen, P.O. Box 8146 Dep, N- 0033, Oslo, Norway.
Norwegian Institute of Public Health, P.O. Box 4404 Nydalen, N-0403, Oslo, Norway.
Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Campus Adamstuen, P.O. Box 8146 Dep, N- 0033, Oslo, Norway; Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Gaustadallèen 21, N-0349, Oslo, Norway.
Sokoine University of Agriculture, Department of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health, P.O. Box 3021, Morogoro, Tanzania.
Mount Meru Regional Referral Hospital, P.O. Box 3092, Arusha, Tanzania.
Norwegian Veterinary Institute, P.O. Box 750 Sentrum, N-0106, Oslo, Norway.


This is the first study to report organochlorines (OCs), including chlorinated pesticides (OCPs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in human milk from Tanzania. The main aims of this study were to assess the level of contamination and the possible health risks related to OC exposure in nursing infants from the Northern parts of Tanzania. Ninety-five healthy mother-infant couples attending Mount Meru Regional Referral Hospital (MMRRH), Arusha, Tanzania, were assessed for associations between maternal/infant characteristics, i.e. mother's age, BMI, gestational weight gain, occupation, residence and fetal growth parameters and breast milk levels of OCPs, such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its metabolites, dieldrin and PCBs. p,p'-DDE and p,p'-DDT were detected in 100% and 75% of the breast milk samples, respectively, and ranged between 24 and 2400ng/g lipid weight (lw) and <LOD and 133ng/g lw, respectively. Dieldrin was detected in 66% of the samples in levels up to 937ng/g lw. ∑7PCBs ranged between <LOD and 157ng/g lw. Other OCPs were detected in low levels. For assessment of health risks, the Hazard Quotient (HQ) was calculated by comparing estimated daily intakes of OCPs and PCBs with health based guidance values. The estimated daily intake (ng/kg body weight/day) of ∑DDTs, dieldrin and nondioxin-like PCBs (∑6PCBs) exceeded the provisional tolerable daily intake (PTDI) in two, six and forty-eight of the nursing infants, respectively, suggesting potential health risks. In addition, head circumference were negatively associated with p,p´-DDE in female infants, suggesting that OC exposure during pregnancy may influence fetal growth.


Estimated daily intake; Human breast milk; Infant health risks; Organochlorine pesticides; Polychlorinated biphenyls

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