Flame retardant exposure among collegiate United States gymnasts.
Gymnastics training facilities contain large volumes of polyurethane foam, a material that often contains additive flame retardants such as PentaBDE. While investigations of human exposure to flame retardants have focused on the general population, potentially higher than background exposures may occur in gymnasts and certain occupational groups. Our objectives were to compare PentaBDE body burden among gymnasts to the general United States population and characterize flame retardants levels in gym equipment, air, and dust. We recruited 11 collegiate female gymnasts (ages 18-22) from one gym in the eastern United States. The geometric mean (GM) concentration of BDE-153 in gymnast sera (32.5 ng/g lipid) was 4-6.5 times higher than in the general United States population groups. Median concentrations of PentaBDE, TBB, and TBPH in paired handwipe samples were 2-3 times higher after practice compared to before, indicating the gymnasts contacted these flame retardants during practice. GM concentrations of PentaBDE, TBB, and TBPH were 1-3 orders of magnitude higher in gym air and dust than in residences. Our findings suggest that these collegiate gymnasts experienced higher exposures to PentaBDE flame retardants compared to the general United States population and that gymnasts may also have increased exposure to other additive flame retardants used in polyurethane foam such as TBB and TBPH.
Carignan, CC; Heiger-Bernays, W; McClean, MD; Roberts, SC; Stapleton, HM; Sjödin, A; Webster, TF
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