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Exposure to arsenic through breast milk from mothers exposed to high levels of arsenic in drinking water: Infant risk assessment

Samiee, Fateme, Leili, Mostafa, Faradmal, Javad, Torkshavand, Zahra, Asadi, Gholamreza
Food control 2019 v.106 pp. 106669
arsenic, breast feeding, breast milk, drinking water, food crops, groundwater, heavy metals, infants, lactating women, milk, mothers, risk assessment, rural areas, toxicity, villages, Iran
Heavy metal toxicity is related with a number of diseases, but the problem increases many-fold when toxic metals are found in breast milk, the basic food item in a vulnerable age group. Twenty milk samples from lactating women were collected from rural areas of arsenic-affected districts of Kaboodrahang city, Iran. Arsenic levels in drinking water were also analyzed. As controls, 20 breast milk samples and 8 drinking water samples were also collected from two villages southwest of Kaboodrahang city, where no groundwater arsenic contamination has been reported. Mean (±SD) arsenic concentration was 10.75 (±7.62) μg/L in study samples and 7.73 (±4.01) μg/L in control samples. Unacceptable non-carcinogenic health risk levels or hazard quotients for arsenic were found in 55% of breastfed infants in the contaminated areas and 41% of breastfed infants in the non-contaminated area. The results showed that the levels of arsenic in both contaminated and non-contaminated areas were high. This suggest that arsenic probably enters the mother's milk from other sources such as food crops in the study area. Our results indicate a potential risk of arsenic toxicity in infants in rural areas in Kaboodrahang city via the consumption of mothers' breast milk.