Seasonal variations in the levels of PCDD/Fs, PCBs and PBDEs in cows’ milk

Iain R Lake, Christopher D Foxall, Alwyn Fernandes, Mervyn Lewis, Martin Rose, Oliver White, Alan Dowding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The first detailed investigation into seasonal variations in PCDD/F, PCB and PBDE concentrations in cows’ milk from individual farms was conducted. From August 2009 milk samples were taken at 6 weeks intervals from the bulk tank of 2 farms over a period of one year. Samples of dietary inputs including commercial feed, grass, silage and soil were also collected at 6 weekly intervals from each farm. Detailed animal husbandry information was additionally obtained. For all these samples total TEQ, ∑ICES6 and the ∑7 PBDE congeners was calculated. The results demonstrated that the concentrations of these sets of compounds fluctuate notably over short periods in cows’ milk. This variability was such that the highest observed concentrations were nearly double the lowest concentrations detected for both PCDD/Fs and PCBs and PBDEs. Fluctuations between extremes were observed over time periods as short as 6 weeks. Some, but not all, of these variations may be explained by changes in the contaminant concentrations of dietary inputs consumed by the cattle. Changes in contaminant inputs from grass and silage were identified as being the most important source of these fluctuations. Given this variability, the results from PCDD/F and PCB and PBDE monitoring studies may be highly dependent upon when the individual samples were taken. The results have important implications for total diet studies and sampling design.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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