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Dairy ruminant exposure to persistent organic pollutants and excretion to milk

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2008

G. Rychen*
Nancy University, UR AFPA, INRA, 2 avenue de la Forêt de Haye, 54505 Vandoeuvre cedex, France
S. Jurjanz
Nancy University, UR AFPA, INRA, 2 avenue de la Forêt de Haye, 54505 Vandoeuvre cedex, France
H. Toussaint
Nancy University, UR AFPA, INRA, 2 avenue de la Forêt de Haye, 54505 Vandoeuvre cedex, France
C. Feidt
Nancy University, UR AFPA, INRA, 2 avenue de la Forêt de Haye, 54505 Vandoeuvre cedex, France
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Human activities produce polluting compounds such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which may interact with agriculture. These molecules have raised concern about the risk of transfer through the food chain via the animal product. POPs are characterised by a strong persistence in the environment, a high volatility and a lipophilicity, which lead to their accumulation in fat tissues. These compounds are listed in international conventions to organise the information about their potential toxicity for humans and the environment. The aim of this paper is to synthesise current information on dairy ruminant exposure to POPs and the risk of their transfer to milk. Three major groups of POPs have been considered: the polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), the polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The results show that contamination of fodder and soil by these compounds is observed when they are exposed to emission sources (steelworks, cementworks, waste incinerators or motorways) compared with remote areas. In general, soil contamination is considered higher than plant contamination. Highest concentrations of POPs in soil may be close to 1000 ng/kg dry matter (DM) for PCDD/Fs, to 10 000 mg/kg DM for PAHs and 100 μg/kg DM for PCBs. The contamination of milk by POPs depends on environmental factors, factors related to the rearing system (fodder and potentially contaminated soil, stage of lactation, medical state of the herd) and of the characteristics of the contaminants. Transfer rates to milk have been established: for PCBs the rate of transfer varies from 5% to 90%, for PCDD/Fs from 1% to 40% and for PAHs from 0.5% to 8%. The differential transfer of the compounds towards milk is related to the hydrophobicity of the pollutants as well as to the metabolic susceptibility of the compounds.

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