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Brominated Flame Retardants


Sjödin A, Wong LY, Jones RS, Park A, Zhang Y, Hodge C, DiPietro E, McClure C, Turner WE, Needham LL, Patterson DG Jr. Serum Concentrations of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) and Polybrominated Biphenyl (PBB) in the United States Population: 2003–2004. Environ Sci Technol 2008;42(4):1377-1384.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and 2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexabromobiphenyl (BB-153) are chemicals known as brominated flame retardants. We have assessed the exposure status of the United States population to PBDEs and BB-153 and explored associations with demographic information, including participants' age, sex, and race/ethnicity. A total of 2,062 serum samples, from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2004 aged 12 years and older, were analyzed for PBDEs and BB-153; stratified and regression analyses were used to examine levels among demographic groups. The congener with the highest serum concentration was 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) [geometric mean 20.5 ng/g lipid]; followed by 2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexaBDE (BDE-153) [5.7 ng/g lipid]; 2,2',4,4',5-pentaBDE (BDE-99) [5.0 ng/g lipid; a value equal to the highest limit of detection for an individual sample]; 2,2',4,4',6-pentaBDE (BDE-100) [3.9 ng/g lipid]; BB-153 [2.3 ng/g lipid]; and 2,4,4'-triBDE (BDE-28) [1.2 ng/g lipid]. For BDE-47, we observed no significant difference in the least-squares geometric mean (LSGM) by sex, but with age we found both a linear decrease (p = 0.01) and a positive quadratic trend (p = 0.01). Its LSGM, 27.9 ng/lipid, in the 12-19 year olds decreased to 17.2 ng/g lipid in the 40-49 year group, and then curved upward to 20.4 ng/g lipid in the ≥ 60 years olds. Mexican Americans had the highest LSGM of BDE-47 (24.5 ng/g lipid), which was significantly higher than that of non-Hispanic whites (19.7 ng/g lipid, p = 0.01). Adults 60 years and older were twice as likely as adults 20-59 years old to have a serum BDE-47 concentration above the 95th percentile (p = 0.02). These data provide needed exposure assessment data for public health decisions.

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