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Sci Total Environ. 2018 Jan 15;612:1473-1479. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.177. Epub 2017 Sep 25.

Assessment of PCBs and exposure risk to infants in breast milk of primiparae and multiparae mothers in an electronic waste hot spot and non-hot spot areas in Ghana.

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Section of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University, Esbjerg, Denmark. Electronic address:
Environmental Research Group, Department of Chemistry, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana.
Section of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University, Esbjerg, Denmark.


The aim of the study was to assess the levels of PCBs in the breast milk of some Ghanaian women at suspected hotspot and relatively non-hotspot areas and to find out if the levels of these PCBs pose any risk to the breastfed infants. A total of 128 individual human breast milk were sampled from both primiparae and multiparae mothers. The levels of PCBs in the milk samples were compared. Some of these mothers (105 individuals) work or reside in and around Agbogbloshie (hot-spot), the largest electric and electronic waste dump and recycling site in Accra, Ghana. Others (23 donor mothers) also reside in and around Kwabenya (non-hotspot) which is a mainly residential area without any industrial activities. Samples were analyzed using GC-MS/MS. The total mean levels and range of Σ7PCBs were 3.64ng/glipidwt and ˂LOD-29.20ng/glipidwt, respectively. Mean concentrations from Agbogbloshie (hot-spot area) and Kwabenya (non-hotspot areas) were 4.43ng/glipidwt and 0.03ng/glipidwt, respectively. PCB-28 contributed the highest of 29.5% of the total PCBs in the milk samples, and PCB-101 contributed the lowest of 1.74%. The estimated daily intake of PCBs and total PCBs concentrations in this work were found to be lower as compared to similar studies across the world. The estimated hazard quotient using Health Canada's guidelines threshold limit of 1μg/kgbw/day showed no potential health risk to babies. However, considering minimum tolerable value of 0.03μg/kgbw/day defined by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the values of some mothers were found to be at the threshold limit. This may indicate a potential health risk to their babies. Mothers with values at the threshold levels of the minimum tolerable limits are those who work or reside in and around the Agbogbloshie e-waste site.


Electronic waste; Ghana; Human breast milk; PCBs; Primiparae and multiparae mothers

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