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Mika Erik Tapio Sillanpää

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in breast milk of nursing mothers: Correlates with household fuel and cooking methods used in Uganda, East Africa

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  • Fred Ssepuya, Makerere University
  • ,
  • Silver Odongo, Makerere University
  • ,
  • Benjamin A. Musa Bandowe, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
  • ,
  • Juma John Moses Abayi, University of Juba
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  • Chijioke Olisah, Nelson Mandela University
  • ,
  • Henry Matovu, Makerere University, Gulu University
  • ,
  • Edward Mubiru, Makerere University
  • ,
  • Mika Sillanpää
  • Ibrahim Karume, Makerere University
  • ,
  • Charles Drago Kato, Makerere University
  • ,
  • Victor Odhiambo Shikuku, Kaimosi Friends University College
  • ,
  • Patrick Ssebugere, Makerere University, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

Maternal breast milk, which is a complete food for the infant's growth, development, and health, contains fats and lipids making it susceptible to accumulation of lipophilic compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This study aimed at analyzing correlates of measured levels of PAHs in breast milk of nursing mothers to frequently used household fuels and cooking methods in Uganda, and estimate the potential health risks of PAHs to infants through breastfeeding. Sixty breast milk samples were collected from healthy and non-smoking mothers who had lived in Kampala capital city (urban area) and Nakaseke district (rural area) for at least five years. Sample extracts were analyzed for PAHs using a gas chromatograph coupled with a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. ∑13PAHs in samples from Kampala ranged from 3.44 to 696 ng/g lw while those from Nakaseke ranged from 0.84 to 87.9 ng/g lw. PAHs with 2–3 rings were more abundant in the samples than PAHs with 4–6 rings. At least 33 % of the variance in the levels of ∑13PAHs in the breast milk samples was attributable to the fuel type and cooking methods used. Nursing mothers who used charcoal for cooking accumulated higher levels of ∑13PAHs in their breast milk samples compared to those who used firewood. Levels of ∑13PAHs in breast milk of mothers increased depending on the cooking methods used in the order; boiling< grilling< deep-frying. In all samples, hazard quotients for PAHs were <1 and estimated incremental cancer risks were all between 10−6 and 10−4, indicating that the health risks to infants due to the ingestion of PAHs in breast milk was tolerable. Further studies with large datasets on PAHs and their derivatives and, larger samples sizes are needed to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156892
JournalScience of the total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Breast milk, Cancer risk, Dietary intake, Persistent organic pollutants, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

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