Predictors of human PBDE body burdens for a UK cohort

L. Bramwell, Stuart Harrad, M. Abou-elwafa Abdallah, Cassandra Rauert, M. Rose, A. Fernandes, T. Pless-Mulloli

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Human exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) was investigated in a cohort of 20 UK adults along with their anthropometric covariates and relevant properties such as room surveys, lifestyle, diet and activity details. Selected PBDE congeners were measured in matched samples of indoor dust (n = 41), vehicles (n = 8), duplicate diet (n = 24), serum (n = 24) and breast milk (n = 6).

Combined exposure estimates via dust and diet revealed total PBDE intakes of 104 to 1,440 pg kg−1 bw d−1 for ΣBDEs3–7 and 1,170 to 17,000 pg kg−1 bw d−1 for BDE-209. These adult intakes are well within health reference doses suggested by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US EPA. Diet was the primary source of intake of BDE3–7 congeners for the majority of the cohort, with dust the primary source of BDE-209. Primary sources of PBDE exposure vary between countries and regions with differing fire prevention regulations. Estimated infant exposures (ages 1.5–4.5 years) showed that BDE-99 intake for one of the households did not meet EFSA's recommended margin of exposure, a further two households had borderline PBDE exposures for high level dust and diet intake.
Males and those having a lower body fat mass had higher serum BDE-153. Higher meat consumption was significantly correlated with higher BDEs3–7 in serum. A reduction in dietary BDEs3–7 would therefore result in the greatest reduction in BDE-99 exposure. Rooms containing PUF sofas or armchairs over 20 years old had more BDEs3–7 in their dust, and rooms with carpets or rugs of that age had higher dust BDE-209. Dusting rooms more frequently resulted in significantly lower concentrations of all major congeners in their dust. Correlation between BDE-209 body burden and dust or diet exposure was limited by its low bioaccessibility. Although vehicle dust contained the highest concentrations of BDEs3–7 and BDE-209, serum BDEs3–7 correlated most strongly with bedroom dust.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Early online date22 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • PBDE
  • serum
  • breast-milk
  • indoor dust
  • diet
  • exposure


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