Organochlorine pesticide residues in human breast milk from southwest Greece: associations with weekly food consumption patterns of mothers.


Breast milk samples were collected from 112 mothers who resided in southwest Greece during the years 1995-1997. The following chemicals, which were present in some of the milk samples, were quantified by gas chromatography: residues of lindane (i.e., alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane [BHC], beta-BHC, gamma-BHC), delta-BHC, 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (p,p-DDE), 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane (p,p'-DDD, and 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane (p,p'-DDT). With the assistance of a qualified dietitian, the mothers also completed a 7-d food-frequency questionnaire and provided additional personal information (e.g., educational level, profession, previous or present residence, use of pesticides, treatment of dermal scabies). Concentrations of gamma-BHC (i.e., lindane) were present in 57.1% of the samples (mean concentration = 0.58 microg/l [whole milk], range = nondetectable to 10.86 microg/l). Concentrations of alpha-BHC, beta-BHC, delta-BHC, p,p'-DDD, and p,p'-DDT were detected in 16%, 39.3%, 11.6%, 41%, and 55.3% of the samples, respectively. Moreover, p,p'-DDE, which was detected in all samples, ranged from 0.33 to 278 microg/l. Typically, the amounts of gamma-BHC and sigma-DDTs in breast milk were below the established acceptable daily intake value. Nonetheless, 3 of the 112 samples contained concentrations of sigma-DDT derivatives that exceeded the acceptable daily intake value established by the World Health Organisation in 1987. Concentrations of insecticides in breast milk were affected by dietary habits. Some women who consumed 7 (or more) portions of fresh vegetables per week had gamma-BHC concentrations in whole milk that exceeded 0.15 microg/l (odds ratio = 1.23 [95% confidence interval = 1.05, 1.44]; p = .006). The concentrations of DDT derivatives were associated with the portions of fish, chicken, fruits, milk, and potatoes consumed each week.


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