PFCs Present in Nursing Mothers' Breast Milk

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sun, 05/04/2008 - 2:39pm.

Perfluorinated compounds, a suspected carcinogen, were found present in the breast milk of 45 nursing mothers in Massachusetts.

Perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, the same chemicals used in the manufacture of nonstick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics, are showing up in the breast milk of nursing mothers, according to a new study by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This study is the first to document the presence of PFCs in human breast milk, according to the researchers.




"While nursing does not expose infants to a dose that exceeds recommended limits, breast milk should be considered as an additional source of PFCs when determining a child's total exposure," said Kathleen Arcaro, a professor in the department of veterinary and animal sciences at the university. Arcaro is on a team of researchers who are examining the link between environmental exposures and breast cancer risk.


The breast milk samples were collected in 2004 from 45 nursing mothers in Massachusetts and analyzed for nine different PFCs. The highest concentration of PFCs were perfluorooctane-sulfonate (PFOS), used in the manufacture of stain-resistant fabrics among other products. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used in nonstick cookware, was the second most highly concentrated PFC. Each liter of breast milk, roughly equivalent to one quart, contained an average 131 billionths of a gram of PFOS and 44 billionths of a gram of PFOA.


That amount of PFCs, if consumed by a newborn, would not exceed the Total Daily Intake Values set by the U.K. Food Standards Agency Committee on Toxicology which reviewed current toxicology studies. But Arcaro cautions that there is no consensus on these values which are derived from rodent studies.


The risks of breast-feeding should be compared against the known benefits of breast feeding to children including better nutrition, immune system development and enhanced defense against infections in children.


The results of the study will be published in Environmental Science and Technology. The study was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


A report in Environmental Science and Technology last year showed that caulking in building materials make indoor air a major source of PCBs.


Some other food and commercial sources of PFCs:         

Grease-resistant packaging like that used in microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes.

Fish and other animals. 

Personal care products including dental floss and shampoo.

Furniture coatings and carpeting.

Still to be studied: The health effects of PFCs on newborns.

Kathlyn Stone - May 3, 2008 - posted at

Tag this page!
Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sun, 05/04/2008 - 2:39pm.