Exposure to Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in the Indoor Environment

Journal Article

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are fire retardants used in consumer products such as foam-containing furniture and electronics. This paper reviews human exposure to PBDEs in North America, applying the source to exposure paradigm, and arrives to the following five conclusions. (1) PentaBDE concentrations in residential house dust are associated with the amount of bromine contained in furniture as measured by X-ray fluorescence; similarly, DecaBDE in dust is associated with bromine in electronics. (2) Microscopic analysis of dust suggests that physical breakdown of products may be an important source of DecaBDE in dust. (3) Concentrations of PentaBDE in people were associated with PentaBDE levels in dust from their homes. (4) Inhalation appears to be a minor route of exposure for most of the population. PentaBDEs on handwipes are associated with both dust concentrations and body burdens, suggesting hand-to-mouth activity (or dermal absorption) as important routes of exposure. (5) Diet appears to be another, independent source of exposure. Fire fighters may be exposed via dust, ash or air, particularly in the aftermath of a fire. The existing literature suggests that human health effects may be associated with PentaBDE exposures in the general population. Manufacture of PentaBDE has been banned; replacement fire retardants can be measured in products and dust. The use of PBDEs and related flame retardants poses a potential risk-risk trade-off that requires the joint efforts of environmental scientists and the fire science community. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Webster, TF; Stapleton, HM; McClean, MD

Published Date

  • 2013

Published In

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 11

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0015-2684

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10694-013-0334-9