Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and their hydroxlyated and methoxylated derivatives in blood from e-waste recyclers, commercial fisherman and office workers in the Puget Sound, Washington Region.
Synthetic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been widely used as flame retardants in many consumer products including electronic devices. Important routes of human exposure are contaminated food and contact with dust found in households and workplaces. Structurally related derivatives of PBDEs are the hydroxylated (OHPBDEs) and methoxylated forms (MeO-PBDEs). Humans can metabolize some PBDEs into the OH-PBDE derivative, which is a concern due to greater health risks associated with OH-PBDEs. However, certain OHPBDEs and MeO-PBDEs are also marine natural products and it is unclear although likely, that marine fish and shellfish, which bioaccumulate these compounds serve as a vector for human exposures. In this study, we compared approximately 30 different PBDE, OH-PBDEs and MeOPBDEs in household / workplace dust and blood plasma samples provided by 114 volunteers living in the Puget Sound region of Washington State and working in the commercial fishing, electronic recycling (E-waste) or non-specific office occupations. Prior to blood sampling, a two-week food consumption diary is obtained from each volunteer. Results indicate the sum PBDE levels varied between < 30 and up to 3000 ng/ml ww. The OH-PBDEs were detected in all volunteers varying between < 5 - 800 ng/ml ww. The MeO-PBDEs were detected in most, but not all volunteers varying between 0 - 1000 ng/ml ww. For the large majority of volunteers, the sum PBDE levels exceeded the combined OH-PBDE and MeO-PBDEs. Exceptions to this observation were individuals that consumed the highest amounts of seafood (more than 5 and up to 18 servings / week). Electronic waste recyclers generally consumed low amounts of seafood and had PBDE, OH-PBDE and MeO-PBDE blood levels that were intermediate between seafood consumers and non-Ewaste office workers. Dust samples from E-waste sites were particularly enriched with PBDE-209 and PBDE-153 relative to non-E-waste businesses and homes. Initial plasma analysis for PBDE-209 suggest levels are near background and not different among occupations.
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