Accumulation of brominated flame retardants and polychlorinated biphenyls in human breast milk and scalp hair from the Philippines: Levels, distribution and profiles


Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education


Science Education

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Science of the Total Environment



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Paired human breast milk and scalp hair samples (n=. 30) were obtained in 2008 from primipara and multipara mothers living in two locations in the Philippines viz., Payatas, a waste dumpsite, and Malate, a non-dumpsite. Samples were analyzed for three groups of organohalogenated compounds, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs). PCBs were the predominantly identified compounds (median: 70. ng/g lipid wt.) in all the breast milk samples. In the human milk, CB-153 was the most dominant PCB congener (17-44% contribution to the sum PCB), closely followed by CB-138 (12-35%), CB-118 (4-12%), CB-180 (2-13%), CB-187 (3-13%), and CB-170 (1.5-10%). Levels of PBDEs (median: 3.0. ng/g lipid wt.) in human milk samples from the Philippines were similar to other Asian or European countries. BDE-47, -99, -100 and -153 were the major PBDE congeners. For HBCDs, the α-isomer was predominant followed by the γ-HBCD isomer in the both locations. PBDE levels in human milk were significantly higher in the dumpsite (3.9. ng/g lipid wt.) than in the non-dump site (2.2. ng/g lipid wt.). PBDE concentrations (including BDE-209) were significantly higher (median: 70. ng/g hair) than those of PCBs (median: 30. ng/g hair) and HBCDs (median: 1.0. ng/g hair) in all the scalp hair samples. To our knowledge, this is the first report on HBCDs in human scalp hair. PBDE congeners in scalp hair were dominated by BDE-209 and BDE-47. On a congener basis, the levels of PBDEs found in scalp hair were higher than those in Spain (children and adults) and China (general people). PCB levels found in scalp hair were higher than those in Greece, Romania and Belgium, but lower than those in China. In this study, there were no significant differences in the concentration of PCBs and HBCDs in human milk; and PCBs, HBCDs and PBDEs in human scalp hair from the two different locations. No significant correlations were observed between PCBs, PBDEs and HBCDs levels and age of mothers in this study, which may be due to the small number of samples. Furthermore, there was no correlation between milk and hair levels for more persistent compounds (PCB-153, PCB-138, or BDE-47), and thus it is worthy to follow-up in future studies along with more number of samples. This is the first report to provide measurement data for PCBs, PBDEs and HBCDs in paired milk and hair of populations in the Philippines. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


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Science and Mathematics Education


Breast milk—Analysis; Hair—Analysis; Organobromine compounds; Polychlorinated biphenyls

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