Dietary Intake and Human Milk Residues of Hexachlorocyclohexane Isomers in Two Chinese Cities

Residues of hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs, including α-HCH, β-HCH, γ-HCH, and δ-HCH) in human milk of two populations from Beijing and Shenyang, China were studied. In addition to human milk samples from 76 women, 271 composite food samples covering major food categories were also collected for HCH analysis. The food consumption and social-demographic characteristics of the studied populations were investigated and dietary intakes of HCHs of the milk donors on an individual basis were calculated. The dependences of HCH concentration in the human milk on food consumption, dietary intake of HCHs, and demographic characteristics were studied. It was found that β-HCH dominated the HCHs detected in the human milk. Although there were dramatic declines in HCHs in the human milk compared to historical data, the current levels (312 ± 377 ng/g fat and 360 ± 235 ng/g fat as the means and standard deviations for Beijing and Shenyang, respectively) were still much higher than those reported in other cities within China and around the world. It was revealed that the residual level of HCHs in the human milk was positively correlated (p < 0.001) to the quantities of food consumption. Milk, oil, vegetables, and fruits contributed a large portion of HCHs intake in Beijing, while cereals, milk, vegetables, oil, and meat were the most important dietary intake sources of HCHs in Shenyang. Both daily dietary intake of HCHs (p < 0.001) and body mass index (BMI, body weight divided by the squared height) (p < 0.01) were significantly correlated with human milk HCHs. A nonlinear model was developed to predict the residues of HCHs in human milk using both dietary intake and BMI as independent variables. Potential risk of the HCH exposure of breastfed infants is discussed.