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  • J a n u a r y 2 0 0 5

    EPHC

    EPHCEnvironment Protection and Heritage Council

    Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs) and

    Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the

    Australian Population: Levels in Human Milk

    A consultancy funded by the Australian Government Department of the

    Environment and Heritage

    Prepared by Dr Fiona Harden, Dr Jochen Mller and Leisa Toms

  • Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the Australian Population: Levels in Human Milk

    i

    Environment Protection and Heritage Council of Australia and New Zealand, January 2005

    ISBN 0 642 32384 4

    Information contained in this publication may be copied or reproduced for study, research, information or educational purposes, subject to inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source.

    Disclaimer

    The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of any members or member government of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council.

    While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this publication are factually correct, the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the contents, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the contents of this publication.

    To obtain copies of this report: Phone: 1800 003 562 Fax: (02) 6274 2060 E-mail: ocp@deh.gov.au

    Mail c/- Chemical Policy Department of the Environment and Heritage GPO Box 787 CANBERRA ACT 2601 AUSTRALIA

    This document may be accessed electronically from:

    Citation

    This report should be cited as follows:

    Harden F, Mller J & Toms L 2005, Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the Australian Population: Levels in Human Milk, Environment Protection and Heritage Council of Australia and New Zealand.

    mailto:ocp@deh.gov.auhttp://www.ephc.gov.au/

  • Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the Australian Population: Levels in Human Milk

    ii

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Project Team

    Fiona Harden (project leader), Jochen Mller, Leisa Toms, Michael Moore - National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology, Brisbane Queensland.

    Debbie Burniston, Robert Symons - National Measurement Institute, Pymble NSW.

    Jorma Ahokas - Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne Vic.

    Peter Frst - State Laboratory of NRW (North Rhine Westphalia), Mnster Germany.

    Olaf Ppke - ERGO, Hamburg Germany.

    Contributors

    The authors would like to thank the following people:

    all of the mothers and babies who donated or attempted to donate their precious time and milk samples for this study

    all of the local coordinators who assisted in the recruitment of participants and the subsequent collection and return of samples

    all laboratory staff at National Measurement Institute all laboratory staff at State Laboratory of NRW, Mnster, Germany.

    The National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology is co-funded by Queensland Health.

  • Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the Australian Population: Levels in Human Milk

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    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    This study arose out of the 2002 Review of the PCB Management Plan by the Scheduled Waste Management Network (SWMN) and the National Advisory Body (NAB).

    The Review indicated it would be beneficial to obtain some data on the levels of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in the Australian population. In 2002, the Environment Protection and Heritage Standing Committee (EPHSC) agreed and noted that the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) would commission a study using the same samples from the National Dioxins Program (NDP) breast milk study collected in 2002-03. The study, however, was also broadened to include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

    The OCPs that were analysed included:

    hexachlorobenzene trans-nonachlor alpha-HCH p,p'-DDE beta-HCH p,p'-DDD gamma-HCH (lindane) o,p'-DDT aldrin p,p'-DDT heptachlor mirex heptachlor epoxide oxychlordane dieldrin cis- and trans-chlordane

    The PBDEs that were analysed included: BDE 17, 28, 47, 49, 66, 71, 77, 85, 99, 100, 119, 126, 138, 153, 154 and 183.

    In total, 173 samples of breast milk were collected from 12 regions of Australia during the period March 2002 and September 2003. Of these, 16 were excluded because they were later found to have violated the inclusion/exclusion criteria.

    The remaining 157 samples were collected and analysed as 17 pooled samples covering the following regions:

    Brisbane Rural inland Queensland (Dalby) Sydney (two pools) Rural inland NSW (Dubbo) Melbourne (four pools) Rural Victoria (Bendigo, Ballarat, and

    Lakes Entrance) Adelaide (two pools) Newcastle Perth Wollongong Hobart Darwin

    In addition to these samples, a further 24 historical samples collected in 1993 by the Key Centre for Applied and Nutritional Toxicology, Melbourne Victoria, were analysed as three pools of eight samples.

    In total, 20 pools of breast milk were analysed. All pooled samples were sent to the National Measurement Institute (formally the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories), Sydney, Australia and two duplicate samples were sent to the State Laboratory of NRW, Mnster, Germany for inter-laboratory comparison.

    OCPs and PBDEs were detected in all pooled samples.

  • Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the Australian Population: Levels in Human Milk

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    ORGANOCHLORINE PESTICIDES (OCPS)

    The overall OCP concentration for all samples was dominated by beta-HCH and p,p-DDE, a degradation product of DDT. The highest concentrations of OCPs were found in the Sydney pool A and the Melbourne pool A samples. An elevated concentration of HCB was also detected in the sample from rural Queensland.

    A comparison of the Melbourne samples collected in 1993 with those collected in 2002/03 showed no significant differences in the concentrations of the OCPs over the ten-year period. However, it should be noted that comparison of the two sample populations is complicated by the fact that details of maternal parity1 and infant age at the date of collection for the 1993 samples were not available.

    Additionally, statistical evaluation of any minor differences observed was complicated by the use of pooled samples and, hence, was not undertaken.

    It is noteworthy that a low ratio of DDT to its degradation product DDE was observed in the 1993 samples as well as the 2002/03 samples indicating that exposure to DDT is not recent and is consistent with the use of DDT having been discontinued as an insecticide2. Higher ratios of these compounds have been observed particularly in developing countries and are indicative of the continued use of DDT as an insecticide in agricultural and malarial control programs.

    Overall, the concentrations of OCPs in the breast milk of these Australian women are low compared to international studies.

    POLYBROMINATED BIPHENYLS (PBDES)

    For samples collected during 2002/03, the mean concentration of PBDEs for all samples was 11 ng g-1 expressed on a lipid basis. The concentration ranged from a minimum of 6.0 ng g-1 lipid detected in the Tasmanian sample to a maximum of 18 ng g-1 lipid detected in the rural NSW sample. The PBDEs that were found in the highest concentrations were BDEs 47, 99, 100, 153 and 154 contributing on average 50, 17, 12, 10 and 1.3 %, respectively, to the total concentration for each pooled sample.

    For the three pooled samples collected in 1993, the mean concentration of PBDEs was 13 ng g-1 expressed on a lipid basis. This was higher than that observed in the 2002/03 samples. However, this is not considered significant, as it is the same order of magnitude and there are too many limitations associated with sample size, sampling methodology and analytical uncertainty to draw any firm conclusions on trends. As for the 2002/03 samples, there was a clear dominance of BDE 47, 99,100,153 and 154 with each contributing an average of 42, 26, 12, 12, 8 and 2 %, respectively, to the total concentration for each pooled sample.

    The levels reported for the 2002/03 samples are consistent with findings reported internationally. On a worldwide basis, the levels of PBDE compounds detected in breast milk are higher than those levels observed in Europe and Japan but lower than those observed in North America and Canada. It should be noted that much of the data from Japan is based on very low sample numbers and in some cases is the result of only a single analysis. The levels reported for North America and Canada are likely to be related to their high utilisation of

    1 Number of pregnancies a woman has had. 2 DDT was deregistered for use in Australia in 1987.

  • Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the Australian Population: Levels in Human Milk

    v

    products and articles containing penta-BDE. Penta-BDE is one of several compounds in the class of PBDEs and is predominantly used as a flame retardant in polyurethane foam in furniture and electronics.

    Little is known about the exact sources and types of PBDE containing products in Australia. From the results of this study, it appears that a significant proportion of PBDE product may be in the form of penta-BDE products. Further investigation of these samples including analysis of individual samples may be warranted in order to determine the exact