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AWHHE – Protecting women from EDCs

The Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment (AWHHE) have published the results of breast milk samples analysed for the presence of some chemicals considered as EDCs. The investigation was conducted from September to October 2015 in the framework of an ongoing project about protecting women from EDCs.

Sampling of breast milk was conducted in two provinces in Armenia (Ararat and Armavir) and the results were submitted to the relevant ministries of the Republic of Armenia (Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Nature Protection). A total of 26 samples were taken including six milk samples from the village of Ditak (of which two were cow milk samples), eight breast milk samples from the village of Abovyan, seven breast milk samples from the village of Arshaluys, and five samples from the village of Haytagh.

The samples were analysed for the presence of residual concentrations of the following pesticides - DDT and its metabolites, HCCH and its isomers, and 2,4-D (dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), also considered as EDCs. On closer examination out of the list of pesticides permitted for use in Armenia, it was found that although 10 herbicides come in different trade names, they all contain the same 2,4-D active ingredient (for example, 2,4-D Amine Salt, Byuktril D, Desormon, Dialen, Dikamin D, Valsamin, Demin, Agrocid Super, Dialen Super, Amina, etc).

To note, there is no regulatory limit for the amount of organochlorine pesticides (e.g. DDT, HCCH) residues in breast milk, which means that the breast milk should not contain any of these pesticides. Laboratory analyses showed that all 26 samples contained residues of all above-mentioned persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

The first attempt to test breast milk for POPs residues was made by AWHHE in 2004 where at the time the highest DDT residue was found to be 0, 09 mg /1 while the testing from the current project shows that the highest DDT concentration was 0, 03 mg / l. The current research showed low levels of pesticide residues as compared to the results of research conducted in the same provinces in previous years.

Although there is currently no regulatory limit for the amount of organochlorine pesticides residues in breast milk, for the purpose of assessing the quality of breast milk, AWHHE compared the results with the requirements for adapted milk-based infant formulas (0 - 4 months old) as outlined in Appendix 1 of the Government Decision. The comparison of the results showed that DDT residue in seven samples out of 26 tested (23 percent) exceeded the maximum permissible concentration in milk-based formulas (0.01 mg / l), HCCH residue exceeded the permissible limit in milk-based formulas (0.02 mg / l) in four samples (15 percent), and 2,4-D residue exceeded the permissible limit in milk-based formulas (0.01 mg / l ) in 16 samples (61 percent).

Authors: Elena Manvelyan MD.PhD; Lilik Simonyan, MD; MPH Emma Anakhasyan

Last updated on 27 May 2016

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