Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in breast milk from Korea: Time-course trends, influencing factors, and infant exposure

Sunggyu Lee, Sunmi Kim, Jeongim Park, Hai Joong Kim, Gyuyeon Choi, Sooran Choi, Sungjoo Kim, Su Young Kim, Sungkyoon Kim, Kyungho Choi, Hyo Bang Moon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    64 Citations (Scopus)


    Breastfeeding is an important exposure pathway to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) for newborn infants. Nevertheless, reports are limited on the occurrence and time-course of PFASs in breast milk, and most studies have focused on the analysis of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). In this study, 16 PFASs were analyzed in breast milk samples (n = 293) collected from 128 mothers in Korea during various lactation periods to assess maternal exposure levels, contamination profiles, time-course variations, and infant health risks. The total concentrations of PFASs (ΣPFAS) ranged from 31.7 to 1004 (median: 188) ng/L, which was within the ranges recently reported for Asian and European populations. After a month of nursing, the concentrations of PFOS, PFOA, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and ΣPFAS significantly increased. This could be due to changes in the dietary and behavior patterns of the mothers after the first month of lactation. The concentrations of PFOS and PFOA were significantly correlated with maternal age, body mass index, and parity. Certain types of diet (e.g. consuming snacks and milk) and eating-out frequency were significantly associated with increasing levels of PFAS. Significant correlations and similar time-course trends were found between PFASs and PCBs/DDTs, implying similar exposure sources and biokinetics for these contaminants. The estimated daily intakes of PFOS and PFOA via the consumption of breast milk were below the tolerable daily intakes for infants suggested by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)286-292
    Number of pages7
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 15


    • Lactation
    • PFNA
    • PFOA
    • PFOS
    • Tolerable daily intake

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Engineering
    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Waste Management and Disposal
    • Pollution


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