Assessment of exposure to legacy and replacements EDCs in water, food and breast milk samples from Canada (Montreal) and South Africa (Vhembe and Pretoria)

During the past year our team has completed targeted and non-targeted assays of the bisphenols, flame retardants and plasticizers found in water, food and breast milk samples, presented their data at national and international meetings, and published a number of manuscripts (Science of the Total Environment, Environmental Science & Technology, Chemosphere, Environment International).

Only negligible amounts of bisphenols (BPA, BPS, BPF and BPAF) were detected in bottled or tap water samples. Interestingly, there was a high level of BPS (but no BPA) in Montreal food samples; this was due to migration from thermal labels. In contrast, only BPA was detected in food from South Africa. Breast milk samples from Montreal contained primarily BPS and other thermal label color developers (D-8, D-90, TGSA), while the South African samples contained predominantly BPA.

Legacy brominated flame retardants (PBDEs) were detected at very low levels in Montreal tap and bottled water samples compared to South Africa; the organophosphate esters (OPEs) used as replacements were at much higher levels in both regions. Drinking water treatment plants in Montreal remove a significant percentage of these EDCs from raw water. Multiple PBDEs and OPEs were detected in Montreal and South Africa food samples. Studies are ongoing to assess the role of food packaging as a source of this contamination. Lastly, PBDEs were detected in Montreal breast milk samples whereas OPEs were detected in only a few samples.

Both legacy and replacement plasticizers were detected in Montreal and South African drinking water and food samples. There was some indication that food packaging may be responsible for the presence of certain of these contaminants. Analyses of the plasticizer in breast milk samples are underway.

Thus, many of the legacy and replacement EDCs of interest are detected in water, food and breast milk samples from both Canada and South Africa, often in the form of mixtures of many residues at low levels. Recent studies have shown the importance of packaging as a major source of EDC contamination of food. We have also discovered novel contaminants in both food and breast milk samples by using a combination of targeted and non-targeted analytical approaches. The major question still to be answered is whether the EDC-related mixtures pose potential health risks.


You will find a complete list of articles published and presentations made by the Aim 1 team in the "Knowledge Transfer" section of this website.

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