Concentrations of dioxins and other organochlorines (PCBs, DDTs, HCHs) in human milk from Seveso, Milan and a Lombardian rural area in Italy: A study performed 25 years after the heavy dioxin exposure in Seveso

J. Weiss, O. Päpke, A. Bignert, S. Jensen, E. Greyerz, C. Agostoni, R. Besana, E. Riva, M. Giovannini, Rolf Zetterström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Aim: To investigate whether those who were exposed to high levels of the dioxin TCDD 25 years ago in Seveso, northern Italy still have higher than the expected levels of dioxins in their fat stores, and to investigate the concentrations of dioxins in the breast milk of mothers in Seveso and in two other regions in Italy. The load of vertically transmitted dioxins to the next generation, if being breastfed, was also investigated. Methods: As there may be a synergistic effect of mixtures of organic chlorines, the concentrations of pesticides such as DDTs and PCBs have also been studied in the same human milk samples. Breast milk from 12 mothers from Seveso, Central Milan and a Lombardian village was collected for analysis during the first week and 1 and 3 mo after delivery. Individual samples were used for the analysis of pesticides and PCBs, whereas dioxins were analysed in pooled samples from all 12 mothers on each occasion. Results: In human milk from Seveso, the TCDD concentration in fat calculated on a fresh weight basis was more than twice as high as the level in the other two regions, whereas the concentrations of investigated other toxins were lower in Seveso possible due to induction of the enzyme cytochrome P4501A, which means that the total level of dioxins was the same in all three locations. The congener profile, measured as mean toxic equivalency (TEQ) values, was the same in the Italian samples as previously reported from Stockholm. The calculations are based on the most recent WHO TCDD equivalency factors (TEF). The DDE concentration was higher in the samples from Milan than in the samples from the other two Italian regions, which may be due to the fact that, to a greater extent than in the other regions, Milanese food is imported from countries where DDT is still used as a pesticide. Conclusion: Twenty-five years after the dioxin catastrophe, human milk from mothers in Seveso has concentrations of the highly toxic dioxin congener TCDD that are more than twice as high as those in central Milan and a Lombardian village. This means that breastfed infants in Seveso still store an appreciable amount of TCDD in their body fat. The health consequences of this fact remain to be elucidated. The effect of the high load of DDTs in central Milan also has to be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Volume92
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2003

Fingerprint

Dioxins
DDT
Polychlorinated Biphenyls
Human Milk
Italy
Pesticides
Poisons
Fats
Mothers
Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
Enzyme Induction
Chlorine
Cytochromes
Adipose Tissue
Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
Weights and Measures
Food
Health

Keywords

  • Breast milk
  • DDTs
  • Dioxins
  • Milan
  • PCBs
  • Seveso

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Cite this

Concentrations of dioxins and other organochlorines (PCBs, DDTs, HCHs) in human milk from Seveso, Milan and a Lombardian rural area in Italy : A study performed 25 years after the heavy dioxin exposure in Seveso. / Weiss, J.; Päpke, O.; Bignert, A.; Jensen, S.; Greyerz, E.; Agostoni, C.; Besana, R.; Riva, E.; Giovannini, M.; Zetterström, Rolf.

In: Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics, Vol. 92, No. 4, 01.04.2003, p. 467-472.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Aim: To investigate whether those who were exposed to high levels of the dioxin TCDD 25 years ago in Seveso, northern Italy still have higher than the expected levels of dioxins in their fat stores, and to investigate the concentrations of dioxins in the breast milk of mothers in Seveso and in two other regions in Italy. The load of vertically transmitted dioxins to the next generation, if being breastfed, was also investigated. Methods: As there may be a synergistic effect of mixtures of organic chlorines, the concentrations of pesticides such as DDTs and PCBs have also been studied in the same human milk samples. Breast milk from 12 mothers from Seveso, Central Milan and a Lombardian village was collected for analysis during the first week and 1 and 3 mo after delivery. Individual samples were used for the analysis of pesticides and PCBs, whereas dioxins were analysed in pooled samples from all 12 mothers on each occasion. Results: In human milk from Seveso, the TCDD concentration in fat calculated on a fresh weight basis was more than twice as high as the level in the other two regions, whereas the concentrations of investigated other toxins were lower in Seveso possible due to induction of the enzyme cytochrome P4501A, which means that the total level of dioxins was the same in all three locations. The congener profile, measured as mean toxic equivalency (TEQ) values, was the same in the Italian samples as previously reported from Stockholm. The calculations are based on the most recent WHO TCDD equivalency factors (TEF). The DDE concentration was higher in the samples from Milan than in the samples from the other two Italian regions, which may be due to the fact that, to a greater extent than in the other regions, Milanese food is imported from countries where DDT is still used as a pesticide. Conclusion: Twenty-five years after the dioxin catastrophe, human milk from mothers in Seveso has concentrations of the highly toxic dioxin congener TCDD that are more than twice as high as those in central Milan and a Lombardian village. This means that breastfed infants in Seveso still store an appreciable amount of TCDD in their body fat. The health consequences of this fact remain to be elucidated. The effect of the high load of DDTs in central Milan also has to be considered.",
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T1 - Concentrations of dioxins and other organochlorines (PCBs, DDTs, HCHs) in human milk from Seveso, Milan and a Lombardian rural area in Italy

T2 - A study performed 25 years after the heavy dioxin exposure in Seveso

AU - Weiss, J.

AU - Päpke, O.

AU - Bignert, A.

AU - Jensen, S.

AU - Greyerz, E.

AU - Agostoni, C.

AU - Besana, R.

AU - Riva, E.

AU - Giovannini, M.

AU - Zetterström, Rolf

PY - 2003/4/1

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N2 - Aim: To investigate whether those who were exposed to high levels of the dioxin TCDD 25 years ago in Seveso, northern Italy still have higher than the expected levels of dioxins in their fat stores, and to investigate the concentrations of dioxins in the breast milk of mothers in Seveso and in two other regions in Italy. The load of vertically transmitted dioxins to the next generation, if being breastfed, was also investigated. Methods: As there may be a synergistic effect of mixtures of organic chlorines, the concentrations of pesticides such as DDTs and PCBs have also been studied in the same human milk samples. Breast milk from 12 mothers from Seveso, Central Milan and a Lombardian village was collected for analysis during the first week and 1 and 3 mo after delivery. Individual samples were used for the analysis of pesticides and PCBs, whereas dioxins were analysed in pooled samples from all 12 mothers on each occasion. Results: In human milk from Seveso, the TCDD concentration in fat calculated on a fresh weight basis was more than twice as high as the level in the other two regions, whereas the concentrations of investigated other toxins were lower in Seveso possible due to induction of the enzyme cytochrome P4501A, which means that the total level of dioxins was the same in all three locations. The congener profile, measured as mean toxic equivalency (TEQ) values, was the same in the Italian samples as previously reported from Stockholm. The calculations are based on the most recent WHO TCDD equivalency factors (TEF). The DDE concentration was higher in the samples from Milan than in the samples from the other two Italian regions, which may be due to the fact that, to a greater extent than in the other regions, Milanese food is imported from countries where DDT is still used as a pesticide. Conclusion: Twenty-five years after the dioxin catastrophe, human milk from mothers in Seveso has concentrations of the highly toxic dioxin congener TCDD that are more than twice as high as those in central Milan and a Lombardian village. This means that breastfed infants in Seveso still store an appreciable amount of TCDD in their body fat. The health consequences of this fact remain to be elucidated. The effect of the high load of DDTs in central Milan also has to be considered.

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