Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been of environmental and health concern for more than half a century and have their own intergovernmental regulation through the Stockholm Convention, from 2001. One major concern is the nursing child's exposure to POPs, a concern that has led to a very large number of scientific studies on POPs in mothers' milk. The present review is a report on the assessment on worldwide spatial distributions of POPs and of their temporal trends. The data presented herein is a compilation based on scientific publications between 1995 and 2011. It is evident that the concentrations in mothers' milk depend on the use of pesticides and industrial chemicals defined as POPs. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and "dioxins" are higher in the more industrialized areas, Europe and Northern America, whereas pesticides are higher in Africa and Asia and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are reported in higher concentrations in the USA. POPs are consequently distributed to women in all parts of the world and are thus delivered to the nursing child. The review points out several major problems in the reporting of data, which are crucial to enable high quality comparisons. Even though the data set is large, the comparability is hampered by differences in reporting. In conclusion, much more detailed instructions are needed for reporting POPs in mothers' milk. Temporal trend data for POPs in mothers' milk is scarce and is of interest when studying longer time series. The only two countries with long temporal trend studies are Japan and Sweden. In most cases, the trends show decreasing concentrations of POPs in mothers' milk. However, hexabromocyclododecane is showing increasing temporal concentration trends in both Japan and Sweden.
2015. Vol. 22, no 12