Toxic metals status in human blood and breast milk samples in an integrated steel plant environment in Central India
Owing to its unique nutritional and immunological characteristics, human milk is the most important food source for infants. Breast milk can, however, also be a pathway of maternal excretion of toxic elements. Selected toxic elements (As, Pb, Mn,a Hg and Cd) were determined in human breast milk and blood samples obtained from 120 subjects related to an integrated steel plant environment located in central India. Samples of breast milk and blood from subjects living outside the steel plant environment were also analyzed for comparative study. Higher levels of these toxic elements were found in blood samples as compared to breast milk samples. Plant workers showed the higher presence of these metals in their breast milk and blood samples compared to the residents of the area and the subjects living outside the industrial environment, respectively. Mn, Pb and Hg have shown a higher tendency to associate with blood and breast milk than As and Cd. The order of occurrence of these metals in blood and milk samples thus found is Mn > Pb > Hg > As > Cd.