A study on the levels of a polybrominated biphenyl in Chinese human milk samples collected in 2007 and 2011

  • Xiao Liu
  • Sheng Wen
  • Jingguang Li
  • Lei Zhang
  • Yunfeng Zhao
  • Yongning Wu


The levels of a 2,2′,4,4′,5,5′-hexabromobiphenyl (BB-153) were measured in human milk samples collected in 2007 and 2011 from residents in China by high-resolution gas chromatography–high-resolution mass chromatography (HRGC–HRMS) with isotope dilution. The median concentrations of BB-153 from the samples collected in 2007 and 2011 were 8.3 and 7.2 pg/g lipid weight, respectively. The levels of BB-153 in the human milk collected from rural areas were not significantly different to those collected from the urban areas in China. Meanwhile, significant positive correlations were found between the levels of BB-153 in human milk and the consumption of animal-origin foods. In the present study, the mean levels of BB-153 in human milk from Chinese mothers were found to be lower than those from European and American mothers.


Hexabromobiphenyl BB-153 Human milk Brominated flame retardants 



We would like to express our gratitude to all the volunteers in this study. This research was supported by the National Nature Science of Foundation of China (Grant No. 21407033 and No. 21361140359) and Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB01020300) and Hubei Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention funded project (Y2013W07).

Supplementary material

10661_2016_5530_MOESM1_ESM.doc (30 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 30 kb)


  1. Boer, J. D., Boer, K. D., & Boon, J. P. (2000). Polybrominated biphenyls and diphenylethers. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  2. Bramwell, L., Fernandes, A., Rose, M., Harrad, S., & Pless-Mulloli, T. (2014). PBDEs and PBBs in human serum and breast milk from cohabiting UK couples. Chemosphere, 116, 67–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brilliant, L., Van Amburg, G., Isbister, J., Humphrey, H., Wilcox, K., Eyster, J., et al. (1978). Breast-milk monitoring to measure Michigan’s contamination with polybrominated biphenyls. The Lancet, 312(8091), 643–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clarke, B., Porter, N., Symons, R., Marriott, P., Ades, P., Stevenson, G., et al. (2008). Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polybrominated biphenyls in Australian sewage sludge. Chemosphere, 73(6), 980–989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Darnerud, P. O. (2003). Toxic effects of brominated flame retardants in man and in wildlife. Environment International, 29(6), 841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dunckel, A. E. (1975). An updating on the polybrominated biphenyl disaster in Michigan. J. Amer. Vet. Med. Assoc., 167, 838–841.Google Scholar
  7. Fång, J., Nyberg, E., Winnberg, U., Bignert, A., & Bergman, Å. (2015). Spatial and temporal trends of the Stockholm Convention POPs in mothers’ milk—a global review. Environmental Science & Pollution Research, 22, 1–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fernandez, M., Araque, P., Kiviranta, H., Molina-Molina, J., Rantakokko, P., Laine, O., et al. (2007). PBDEs and PBBs in the adipose tissue of women from Spain. Chemosphere, 66(2), 377–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Focant, J.-F., Sjödin, A., Turner, W. E., & Patterson, D. G. (2004). Measurement of selected polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polybrominated and polychlorinated biphenyls, and organochlorine pesticides in human serum and milk using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography isotope dilution time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Analytical Chemistry, 76(21), 6313–6320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gieroń, J., Grochowalski, A., & Chrząszcz, R. (2010). PBB levels in fish from the Baltic and north seas and in selected food products from Poland. Chemosphere, 78(10), 1272–1278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hakk, H., & Letcher, R. J. (2003). Metabolism in the toxicokinetics and fate of brominated flame retardants—a review. Environment International, 29(6), 801–828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hardy, M. (2002). A comparison of the properties of the major commercial PBDPO/PBDE product to those of major PBB and PCB products. Chemosphere, 46(5), 717–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. IARC (1987). Overall evaluations of carcinogenicity: an updating of IARC monographs. Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans (pp. 321):
  14. Jacobson, J. L., Fein, G. G., Jacobson, S. W., Schwartz, P. M., & Dowler, J. K. (1984). The transfer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) across the human placenta and into maternal milk. American Journal of Public Health, 74(4), 378–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Joseph, A. D., Terrell, M. L., Small, C. M., Cameron, L. L., & Marcus, M. (2009). Assessing inter-generational transfer of a brominated flame retardant. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 11(4), 802–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Konoplev, A. V., Volkova, E. F., Kochetkov, A. I., Pervunina, R. I., & Samsonov, D. P. (2012). Monitoring of persistent organic pollutants in the ambient air as an element of implementation of the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. Russian Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 6(5), 652–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lammel, G., & Lohmann, R. (2012). Identifying the research needs in the global assessment of toxic compounds 10 years after the signature of the Stockholm convention. Environmental Science & Pollution Research, 19(6), 1873–1874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lenters, V., Thomsen, C., Smit, L. A. M., Bo, A. G. J., Pedersen, H. S., Ludwicki, J. K., et al. (2013). Serum concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and a polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) in men from Greenland, Poland and Ukraine. Environment International, 61(4), 8–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li, J., Zhang, L., Wu, Y., Liu, Y., Zhou, P., Wen, S., et al. (2009). A national survey of polychlorinated dioxins, furans (PCDD/Fs) and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dl-PCBs) in human milk in China. Chemosphere, 75(9), 1236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Luross, J. M., Mehran, A., Sergeant, D. B., Cannon, C. M., Whittle, D. M., Solomon, K. R., et al. (2002). Spatial distribution of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polybrominated biphenyls in lake trout from the Laurentian Great Lakes. Chemosphere, 46(5), 665–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nollet, L. M. (2011). Analysis of endocrine disrupting compounds in food. Wiley.Google Scholar
  22. Pratt, I., Anderson, W., Crowley, D., Daly, S., Evans, R., Fernandes, A., et al. (2013). Brominated and fluorinated organic pollutants in the breast milk of first-time Irish mothers: is there a relationship to levels in food? Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A(ahead-of-print), 1–11.Google Scholar
  23. Salgado-Petinal, C., Llompart, M., García-Jares, C., García-Chao, M., & Cela, R. (2006). Simple approach for the determination of brominated flame retardants in environmental solid samples based on solvent extraction and solid-phase microextraction followed by gas chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A, 1124(1), 139–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shen, H., Main, K. M., Andersson, A.-M., Damgaard, I. N., Virtanen, H. E., Skakkebaek, N. E., et al. (2008). Concentrations of persistent organochlorine compounds in human milk and placenta are higher in Denmark than in Finland. Human Reproduction, 23(1), 201–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sjödin, A., Jones, R. S., Focant, J.-F., Lapeza, C., Wang, R. Y., & McGahee, E. E. (2004a). Retrospective time-trend study of polybrominated diphenyl ether and polybrominated and polychlorinated biphenyl levels in human serum from the United States. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112(6), 654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sjödin, A., Jones, R. S., Lapeza, C. R., Focant, J.-F., McGahee, E. E., & Patterson, D. G. (2004b). Semiautomated high-throughput extraction and cleanup method for the measurement of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polybrominated biphenyls, and polychlorinated biphenyls in human serum. Analytical Chemistry, 76(7), 1921–1927.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sjödin, A., Wong, L.-Y., Jones, R. S., Park, A., Zhang, Y., Hodge, C., et al. (2008). Serum concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) in the United States population: 2003–2004. Environmental Science & Technology, 42(4), 1377–1384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Vetter, W., Recke, R. V. D., Symons, R., & Pyecroft, S. (2008). Determination of polybrominated biphenyls in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) by gas chromatography coupled to electron capture negative ion tandem mass spectrometry or electron ionization high-resolution mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 22(24), 4165–4170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wang, R., & Needham, L. (2007). Environmental chemicals: from the environment to food, to breast milk, to the infant. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 10(8), 597–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. WHO (1994). Environmental health criteria 152. Polybrominated biphenyls. International Program on Chemical Safety, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland; 1994.
  31. Wu, H.-Q., Huang, X.-L., Huang, F., & Lin, X.-S. (2007). Determination of polybromodiphenyl ethers and polybromobiphenyls in electrical and electronic equipments by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Chinese Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 35(3), 325–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Xu, W., Xian, W., & Cai, Z. (2013). Analytical chemistry of the persistent organic pollutants identified in the Stockholm Convention: a review. Analytica Chimica Acta, 790(15), 1–13.Google Scholar
  33. Yang, Q., Qiu, X., Li, R., Liu, S., Li, K., & Wang, F., et al. (2013). Exposure to typical persistent organic pollutants from an electronic waste recycling site in northern china. Chemosphere, 91(2), 205–11.Google Scholar
  34. Yun, S. H., Addink, R., McCabe, J. M., Ostaszewski, A., Mackenzie-Taylor, D., Taylor, A. B., et al. (2008). Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polybrominated biphenyls in sediment and floodplain soils of the Saginaw River watershed, Michigan, USA. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 55(1), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang, L., Li, J., Zhao, Y., Li, X., Yang, X., Wen, S., et al. (2011). A national survey of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and indicator polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Chinese mothers’ milk. Chemosphere, 84(5), 625–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhao, G., Wang, Z., Dong, M. H., Rao, K., Luo, J., Wang, D., et al. (2008). PBBs, PBDEs, and PCBs levels in hair of residents around e-waste disassembly sites in Zhejiang Province, China, and their potential sources. Science of the Total Environment, 397(1), 46–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zhao, G., Wang, Z., Zhou, H., & Zhao, Q. (2009a). Burdens of PBBs, PBDEs, and PCBs in tissues of the cancer patients in the e-waste disassembly sites in Zhejiang, China. Science of the Total Environment, 407(17), 4831–4837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zhao, G., Zhou, H., Wang, D., Zha, J., Xu, Y., Rao, K., et al. (2009b). PBBs, PBDEs, and PCBs in foods collected from e-waste disassembly sites and daily intake by local residents. Science of the Total Environment, 407(8), 2565–2575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhi-Xiong, S., Yong-Ning, W., Jing-Guang, L., Yun-Feng, Z., & Jin-Fang, F. (2009). Dietary exposure assessment of Chinese adults and nursing infants to tetrabromobisphenol-a and hexabromocyclododecanes: occurrence measurements in foods and human milk. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(12), 4314–4319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zhou, P., Wu, Y., Yin, S., Li, J., Zhao, Y., Zhang, L., et al. (2011). National survey of the levels of persistent organochlorine pesticides in the breast milk of mothers in China. Environmental Pollution, 159(2), 524–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Key Laboratory of Food Safety Risk AssessmentMinistry of Health (CFSA) and China National Center for Food Safety Risk AssessmentBeijingChina
  2. 2.Hubei Provincial Centre for Disease Control and PreventionWuhanChina

Personalised recommendations