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      Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE) Levels in an Expanded Market Basket Survey of U.S. Food and Estimated PBDE Dietary Intake by Age and Sex


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          Our objectives in this study were to expand a previously reported U.S. market basket survey using a larger sample size and to estimate levels of PBDE intake from food for the U.S. general population by sex and age.


          We measured concentrations of 13 polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners in food in 62 food samples. In addition, we estimated levels of PBDE intake from food for the U.S. general population by age (birth through ≥60 years of age) and sex.


          In food samples, concentrations of total PBDEs varied from 7.9 pg/g (parts per trillion) in milk to 3,726 pg/g in canned sardines. Fish were highest in PBDEs (mean, 1,120 pg/g; median, 616 pg/g; range, 11.14–3,726 pg/g). This was followed by meat (mean, 383 pg/g; median, 190 pg/g; range, 39–1,426 pg/g) and dairy products (mean, 116 pg/g; median, 32.2 pg/g; range, 7.9–683 pg/g). However, using estimates for food consumption (excluding nursing infants), meat accounted for the highest U.S. dietary PBDE intake, followed by dairy and fish, with almost equal contributions. Adult females had lower dietary intake of PBDEs than did adult males, based on body weight. We estimated PBDE intake from food to be 307 ng/kg/day for nursing infants and from 2 ng/kg/day at 2–5 years of age for both males and females to 0.9 ng/kg/day in adult females.


          Dietary exposure alone does not appear to account for the very high body burdens measured. The indoor environment (dust, air) may play an important role in PBDE body burdens in addition to food.

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          Most cited references42

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          Brominated flame retardants: cause for concern?

          Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have routinely been added to consumer products for several decades in a successful effort to reduce fire-related injury and property damage. Recently, concern for this emerging class of chemicals has risen because of the occurrence of several classes of BFRs in the environment and in human biota. The widespread production and use of BFRs; strong evidence of increasing contamination of the environment, wildlife, and people; and limited knowledge of potential effects heighten the importance of identifying emerging issues associated with the use of BFRs. In this article, we briefly review scientific issues associated with the use of tetrabromobisphenol A, hexabromocyclododecane, and three commercial mixtures of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and discuss data gaps. Overall, the toxicology database is very limited; the current literature is incomplete and often conflicting. Available data, however, raise concern over the use of certain classes of brominated flame retardants.
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            Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the environment and in people: a meta-analysis of concentrations.

            Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used as flame retardants in many types of consumer products. Perhaps as a result of their widespread use and their lipophilicity, these compounds have become ubiquitous in the environment and in people. This review summarizes PBDE concentrations measured in several environmental media and analyzes these data in terms of relative concentrations, concentration trends, and congener profiles. In human blood, milk, and tissues, total PBDE levels have increased exponentially by a factor of approximately 100 during the last 30 yr; this is a doubling time of approximately 5 yr. The current PBDE concentrations in people from Europe are approximately 2 ng/g lipid, but the concentrations in people from the United States are much higher at approximately 35 ng/g lipid. Current PBDE concentrations in marine mammals from the Canadian Arctic are very low at approximately 5 ng/g lipid, but they have increased exponentially with a doubling time of approximately 7 yr. Marine mammals from the rest of the world have current PBDE levels of approximately 1000 ng/g lipid, and these concentrations have also increased exponentially with a doubling time of approximately 5 yr. Some birds' eggs from Sweden are also highly contaminated (at approximately 2000 ng/g lipid) and show PBDE doubling times of approximately 6 yr. Herring gull eggs from the Great Lakes region now have PBDE concentrations of approximately 7000 ng/g lipid, and these levels have doubled every approximately 3 yr. Fish from Europe have approximately 10 times lower PBDE concentrations than fish from North America. From these and other data, it is clear that the environment and people from North America are very much more contaminated with PBDEs as compared to Europe and that these PBDE levels have doubled every 4-6 yr. Analyses of the relative distributions of the most abundant PBDE congeners (using category averages and principal component analysis) indicated that these patterns cannot yet be used to assign sources to these pollutants.
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              Polybrominated diphenyl ethers: occurrence, dietary exposure, and toxicology.

              Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used as flame retardants in plastics (concentration, 5--30%) and in textile coatings. Commercial products consist predominantly of penta-, octa-, and decabromodiphenyl ether mixtures, and global PBDE production is about 40,000 tons per year. PBDEs are bioaccumulated and biomagnified in the environment, and comparatively high levels are often found in aquatic biotopes from different parts of the world. During the mid-1970--1980s there was a substantial increase in the PBDE levels with time in both sediments and aquatic biota, whereas the latest Swedish data (pike and guillemot egg) may indicate that levels are at steady state or are decreasing. However, exponentially increasing PBDE levels have been observed in mother's milk during 1972--1997. Based on levels in food from 1999, the dietary intake of PBDE in Sweden has been estimated to be 0.05 microg per day. Characteristic end points of animal toxicity are hepatotoxicity, embryotoxicity, and thyroid effects as well as maternal toxicity during gestation. Recently, behavioral effects have been observed in mice on administration of PBDEs during a critical period after birth. Based on the critical effects reported in available studies, we consider the lowest-observed-adverse-effect level (LOAEL) value of the PBDE group to be 1 mg/kg/day (primarily based on effects of pentaBDEs). In conclusion, with the scientific knowledge of today and based on Nordic intake data, the possible consumer health risk from PBDEs appears limited, as a factor of over 10(6) separates the estimated present mean dietary intake from the suggested LOAEL value. However, the presence of many and important data gaps, including those in carcinogenicity, reproduction, and developmental toxicity, as well as additional routes of exposure, make this conclusion only preliminary. Moreover, the time trend of PBDEs in human breast milk is alarming for the future.

                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                October 2006
                13 July 2006
                : 114
                : 10
                : 1515-1520
                [1 ] University of Texas School of Public Health at Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
                [2 ] Eurofins-ERGO, Hamburg, Germany
                [3 ] State University of New York Medical Center at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA
                [4 ] National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina USA
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to A. Schecter, University of Texas School of Public Health, 5323 Harry Hines, V8.112, Dallas, TX 75390-9128 USA. Telephone: (214) 648-1096. Fax: (214) 648-1081. E-mail: arnold.schecter@ 123456utsouthwestern.edu

                The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

                This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI

                Public health
                age,pbdes,sex,dietary intake,polybrominated diphenyl ethers,market basket survey
                Public health
                age, pbdes, sex, dietary intake, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, market basket survey


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