2018 Volume 28 Issue 6 Pages 300-306
Background: Globally, few published studies have tracked the temporal trend of dioxin levels in the human body since 2000. This study describes the annual trend of dioxin levels in human breast milk in Japanese mothers from 1998 through 2015.
Methods: An observational study was conducted from 1998 through 2015. Participants were 1,194 healthy mothers following their first delivery who were recruited annually in Japan. Breast milk samples obtained from participants were analyzed using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry for dioxins, including polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Results: Mean age was 29.5 years, and 53% of participants were 20–25 years old. A declining trend in total dioxin levels was found, from a peak of 20.8 pg toxic equivalence (TEQ)/g fat in 1998 to 7.2 pg TEQ/g fat in 2014. Data from the last 5 years of the study indicated a plateau at minimal levels. In contrast, an increasing trend was found in the mean age of participants during the last 5 years. Although significantly higher dioxin levels were observed in samples from older participants, an upward trend in dioxin levels was not observed, indicating that dietary and environmental exposure to dioxins had greatly diminished in recent years.
Conclusions: Dioxin levels in human breast milk may be approaching a minimum in recent years in Japan. The findings may contribute to global reference levels for environmental pollution of dioxins, which remains a problem for many developing countries.