A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 March 1993


First Study To Link Dioxin in Breast Milk
To Local Air Pollution Sources.

The following report, reprinted in full, suggests new warning signs for the potential of significant, and to date unexamined, exposure routes of dioxins in mother’s milk for women who live in close proximity to a municipal waste incinerator (MSW), a hazardous waste incinerator, and a smelter that reclaims scrap metal in the Kehl-Strasbourg area. The Institute which published the report consists of a group of area physicians concerned about the impacts of emissions from these facilities on the local population. Dr. Knebusch of the U.N.UM Institute said this is a preliminary report of a study of mother’s milk the Institute is conducting. We asked Dr. Knebusch about the statement indicating the “strong impact of air emissions” as a factor of significantly increased dioxins, furans, PCBs and HCB, found in mother’s breast milk. Dr. Knebusch responded that “inhalation of the air, dust, and filter dust [ash] of the incinerators, which is stored outside in the open air [near the incinerators], coupled with secondary emissions of re-evaporation and re-circulation” might be contributing factors. The municipality of Strasbourg owns the MSW incinerator which was built by VON ROLL in 1974. The smelter (electric arc furnace) is owned by the Badische Stahlwerke. The municipal waste incinerator is located 7 km in the south of Kehl and the hazardous waste incinerator is located 300 meters from the TREDI hazardous waste incinerator.

February 16, 1993 (Updated) report from: UN. UM. Unabhangiges Nachrichtenburo fur Umweltmedizin [Independent Information Office for Environmental Medicine], Hauptstraße 41, 7640 Kehl - Strasbourg.


The mothers’ milk from 16 individuals was examined for residues of dioxins, furans, PCBs, HCB, and pesticides.

The group of mothers was divided into two sub-groups of equal size with similar characteristics regarding the age distribution of the mothers, number of children and nursing periods.

Group A is comprised of mothers living in villages located in the vicinity of trash incinerators (trash incinerator Straßburg, hazardous waste incinerator TREDI Straßburg, and emissions from the steel plant Kehl-Auenheim caused by the smelting of scrap metal). The average distance of the homes of the individuals in this group range from 0.5 to 3.5 km [0.3 to 2.2 miles].

Group B is comprised of mothers living in the city of Kehl. The distance of the homes of those individuals to the above mentioned facilities range from 4 to 10 km [2.5 to 6.3 miles]. In addition, some of the homes are less affected by the downwind emissions-zone.

Establishing the groups and the analysis of the breast milk was based on random selection.

Study results show that the breast milk from Group A has 50% higher levels of dioxin and furan concentrations. The accumulation by weight translates into an increase in toxicity by 34 percent according to the toxicological evaluation (NATO/CCMS).

PCB levels in Group A are between 43 and 59 percent higher. Hexachlorobenzene levels are elevated by 23 percent.

In contrast, there are no differences between the groups with regard to the measured pesticide concentrations (-6% to +5%, only Dieldrin levels are elevated by 14%).

The absolute dioxin, furan, PCB, and HCB concentrations are in the upper range of what may be considered typical for Germany. Higher levels were not anticipated because none of the mothers ate home-grown food (vegetables, animal fat) and the food supply was derived from various regions.

No statistical evaluation was done because of the small sample size and the large variance of the data.

The data indicate a coherent pattern of increased levels of the distinctive toxins, emitted by incinerators, in the breast milk of mothers living in the immediate emission zone. [Ed. Our emphasis.]

The fact that the two groups didn’t show differences in terms of pesticide concentrations indicates that the groups are well matched with regard to the non-specific intervening variables.

This is the largest analysis of dioxins in breast milk which has been carried out in any single geographic location in Baden-Wurttemberg [one of 16 states in Germany].

Since it is already known that samples of cows’ milk taken in the vicinity of trash incinerators show elevated levels of dioxins and furans, the data of this study show (perhaps for the first time in the FRG) the probability that breast milk is also severely affected.

In view of the fact that the food supply of the mothers comes from many different regions, differences between the groups indicate the strong impact of air emissions.

Congeners / Total Values Difference** Toxic Equivalent Factors (ITEF)

1,2,3,7,8 Pentachlordibenzofuran + 200 % 0.05

1,2,3,4,7,8 Hexachlordibenzofuran + 96 % 0.1

1,2,3,4,6,7,8 Heptachlordibenzodioxin + 58 % 0.01

Octachlordibenzodioxin + 57 % 0.001

Total Polychlordibenzodioxins + 50 %

Total Polychlordibenzodioxins + furans + 48 %

1,2,3,6,7,8 Hexachlordibenzofuran + 45% 0.1

2,3,4,6,7,8 Hexachlordibenzofuran + 41 % 0.1

2,3,7,8 Tetrachlordibenzofuran + 43 % 0.1

Total Polychlordibenzofurans + 34 %

1,2,3,4,6,7,8 Heptachlordibenzodioxin + 34 % 0.01

1,2,3,4,7,8 Hexachlordibenzodioxin + 35 % 0.1

1,2,3,6,7,8 Hexachlordibenzodioxin + 31 % 0.1

2,3,4,7,8 Pentachlordibenzofuran + 30 % 0.5

2,3,7,8 Tetrachlordibenzodioxin + 27 % 1

Octachlordibenzofuran + 25 % 0.001

1,2,3,4,6,7,8 Heptachlordibenzofuran - 12 % 0.01

Toxic Equivalents (NATO/CCMS) + 34 %

Organic Chlorinated Compounds Difference**

PCB-180 + 59 %

PCB-138 + 52 %

PCB-Total (als Clophen A60) + 49 %

PCB-153 + 43 %

PCB-28 -.- ** Difference in the concentrations

Hexachlorobenzene + 23 % in the breast milk of mothers

pp-DDE + 5% between Group A (in immediate

pp-DDT + 2 % emission zone) and Group B

Total-DDT + 4 % (distant emission zone).

Cis-Heptachlor + 4 %

Alpha-HOH -.-

Beta-HCH + 1 %

Gamma-HCH -.-

Delta-HCH -.-

HCH-Isomer, excluding Lindane + 3 %

Oxychlordane - 6 %

Trans-Nonachlor - 6 %

Dieldrin + 14%

Our thanks to Holger M. Eisl, of the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, for the final English translation of this report. We would also like to acknowledge help from Dr. Nils Ekfelt, of St. Lawrence University, for providing us with the first draft translation.

WASTE NOT # 232. A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US50; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.