PBDE found in breast milk

Last November, I was invited to participate and speak at a conference in Seoul about EDCs (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals) or environmental hormones, as they are also called. In my presentation I listed what has been done in Sweden and Japan to try to tackle this serious health issue, and one of my proposals was basically: do more studies.

Now, a new study shows that South Korea indeed has a problem with one group of EDCs called PBDEs.

My hope? I think studies like this can lead to awareness-raising among people, especially mothers, who need to start asking questions about their lifestyles and the products they buy and use on a daily basis...

Chosun Ilbo: Dangerous Pollutants Found in Human Breast Milk

Researchers have found environmental hormones in the breast milk of Korean mothers who recently gave birth. Environmental hormones are chemicals and pollutants that can disrupt biological processes. This is the second case in which Korean mothers' breast milk was found to contain environmental hormones, following a case in 2000 in which dioxin was discovered.

According to the Korea Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, a three-year analysis of breast milk produced by 120 mothers 30 days after childbirth showed traces of the environmental hormone polybrominated diphenyl ether, or PBDE.

PBDEs are flame retardants that are used in plastics, foams, fabrics and other materials to slow the ignition and spread of fire. The material is known to disrupt the development of the brain and neurological system in infants. PBDEs are not easily dissolved in the ecosystem, and they accumulate in the fat of some animals.

Despite the evidence of pollutants in breast milk, the World Health Organization still recommends breast feeding since breast milk is far more beneficial to babies even if it is contaminated with environmental hormones.

Dr. Kang Youn-seok of LabFrontier, who conducted the study, said that PBDEs can be transferred to babies through breast milk. The concentration of PBDEs in Korean mothers is at a similar level to that found in Swedish, Japanese and Finnish mothers, Dr. Kang said.

Here in Japan, the People's Association on Countermeasure of Dioxin & Endocrine Disrupters has continued to hold seminars, including one on March 3, 2007 about children at risk, as well as sterility issues, that affect one in 10 couples in Japan. On June 11, they will publish a new booklet about the problem (in Japanese).


Pandabonium said…
I for one will be more careful of what I put in my mouth.

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