Flame retardant exposure assessment: findings from a behavioral intervention study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been largely replaced by organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs) and alternative brominated flame retardants (Alt-BFRs) to meet flammability requirements. Humans are ubiquitously exposed to some variety of flame retardants through contact with consumer products directly or through household dust.


To evaluate the effectiveness of house cleaning and hand washing practices to reduce exposure to flame retardants, we measured concentrations in dermal hand wipes and urinary metabolites before and after assignment to two consecutive interventions.


We selected 32 mother and child dyads from an existing cohort. This analysis focuses on mothers. Participants provided baseline measurements (urine, hand wipes, and questionnaires) and were then assigned for 1 week to either a house cleaning (including instruction on proper technique and cleaning supplies) or hand washing (including instruction on proper technique and soaps) intervention arm. For the second week, participants were assigned to the second intervention in addition to their initial assignment, thus all subjects both washed their hands and cleaned according to the intervention guidelines during week 2. We collected measurements at the end of weeks 1 and 2.


We found reductions in urinary analytes after week 1 of house cleaning (BCIPHIPP and ip-DPHP), week 1 of hand washing (BCIPP, BCIPHIPP, and tbutyl-DPHP), and week 2 of combined interventions (BCIPHIPP and tbutyl-DPHP), compare to baseline. We found no significant decline in hand wipes in the entire sample but did find reductions after week 1 of house cleaning (BDE 209), week 1 of hand washing (TCEP), and week 2 of combined interventions (TDCIPP and BDE 209) in women with exposure above the median at baseline (verified through simulations).


Exposure to individual flame retardants was reduced by about half, in some cases, by 1 week of increased hand washing, house cleaning to reduce dust, or combined activities.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gibson, EA; Stapleton, HM; Calero, L; Holmes, D; Burke, K; Martinez, R; Cortes, B; Nematollahi, A; Evans, D; Herbstman, JB

Published Date

  • January 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 29 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 33 - 48

PubMed ID

  • 29950671

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6460909

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1559-064X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1559-0631

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/s41370-018-0049-6


  • eng