Biological monitoring of Persistent Organic Pollutants in human milk in Israel

Janice Wasser, Tamar Berman, Liat Lerner-Geva, Itamar Grotto, Lisa Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of POPs around the globe. The Ministry of Health, collaborating with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, measured the exposure of the population to POPs as part of the WHO-coordinated exposure study. Human milk, with a relatively high fat content is a preferred matrix for the monitoring of exposure. METHODS: Donors of breast milk were recruited from three hospitals after signing informed consent forms. Breast milk was collected from 52 primipara women, aged 23-35, living in Israel for the last 10years who gave birth to singleton full term healthy infants. Samples, collected at 3-17weeks postpartum, were stored at -20°C until sent to the WHO Reference Laboratory, State Laboratory for Chemical and Veterinary Analysis of Food (CVUA), in Frieburg, Germany for a single pooled analysis. Mothers were provided with the pooled analysis results. RESULTS: Out of over 50 Persistent Organic Pollutants listed in the analysis, 16, including aldrin, endrin, parlar and mirex were not found at detectable levels in the Israeli pooled sample. For the indicator compounds found at detectable levels, most were lower than those reported in European countries. DISCUSSION: Since 1982, levels of POPs contamination as measured in breast milk have declined significantly. This is likely due to restrictions on agricultural, industrial, and other uses of many POPs in Israel. Ongoing biomonitoring in Israel and inter-ministerial collaboration supports the elimination of POPs in the environment and human milk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-191
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the mothers who participated in this study, as well as the nurses and directors of the participating maternity hospitals: Professor Shaul Dolberg of Lis Maternity Hospital, Professor Mordechai Dulitzky of Tel HaShomer Maternity Center, and Professor Tzipora Dolphin of Meir Medical Center, whose cooperation was essential for the research. This project was realized in the framework of the Fourth WHO-Coordinated Survey of Human Milk for Persistent Organic Pollutants in Cooperation with UNEP. Special thanks are expressed to members of the advisory committee: Dr. Efrat Rorman, Dr. Luda Groisman and Mr. David Sekely for their contributions and we honor the staff at WHO Reference Laboratory, State Laboratory for Chemical and Veterinary Analysis in Food (CVUA), Frieburg, Germany who performed the analysis and provided the results and support in following the protocol. This research was jointly funded by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Health in Israel.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Biomonitoring
  • Breast milk
  • Brominated flame retardants
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Pesticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemistry (all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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