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Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in mothers' breast milk and associated health risk to nursing infants in Uganda

Matovu, Henry, Sillanpää, Mika, Ssebugere, Patrick
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.692 pp. 1106-1115
body weight, breast milk, eggs, electronic wastes, fish, food intake, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, humans, infants, lipids, milk, mothers, plastics, pollutants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, recycling, risk, rural areas, solid phase extraction, toxicity, urban areas, Uganda
The aim of this study was to investigate levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in breast milk samples from healthy primiparous mothers who had lived in Kampala capital city (urban area) and Nakaseke district (a rural area) for the last five years. Fifty samples were collected between March and June 2018 and were extracted by dispersive solid-phase extraction (SPE). Clean-up was performed on an SPE column and analysis was done using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Total (∑) PBDEs (BDE 28, 47, 49, 66, 77, 99, 100,138,153, 154, 183 and 209) ranged from 0.59 to 8.11 ng/g lipid weight (lw). The levels of PBDEs in samples from Kampala capital city were significantly higher than those from Nakaseke (p < 0.01, Mann-Whitney U test). The most dominant congeners were BDE-209 and -47 (contributed 37.1% and 20.2%, respectively to ∑PBDEs), suggesting recent exposure of mothers to deca-and penta-BDE formulations. Fish and egg consumption, plastics/e-waste recycling and paint fumes were associated with higher levels of BDE-47, -153 and -99, respectively, implying that diet and occupation were possible sources of the pollutants. Estimated dietary intakes (ng kg−1 body weight day−1) for BDE-47, -99 and -153 were below the US EPA reference doses for neurodevelopmental toxicity, suggesting minimal health risks to nursing infants who feed on the milk. Generally, the risk quotients for BDE-47, -99 and -153 were <1 in majority (96%) samples, indicating that the breast milk of mothers in Uganda was fit for human consumption.