Serum measures of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in reproductive-aged women in the United Kingdom

Daniel Drage, Amy L Heffernan, Thomas K Cunningham, Lesa L Aylward, Jochen F Mueller, Thozhukat Sathyapalan, Stephen L Atkin

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We investigated the serum concentrations of two brominated flame retardants (BFRs) – polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) –in 59 women aged between 23 and 42 from the United Kingdom. We also collected demographic data, including age, bodyweight and height in order to test for associations with BFR levels. Temporal and global differences were also assessed using previously published data. HBCDD was detected in 68% of samples with a mean concentration of 2.2 ng/g lipid (range = <0.3–13 ng/g lipid). The dominant stereoisomer was α-HBCDD with an average contribution of 82% (0–100%) towards ΣHBCDD, was followed by γ-HBCDD (average contribution = 17%). PBDEs were detected in 95% of samples with a mean ∑PBDE (sum of BDEs −28, −47, −99, −100, −153, −154 and −183) concentration of 2.4 ng/g lipid (range = <0.4–15 ng/g lipid). BDEs −153 and −47 were the dominant congeners, contributing an average of 40% and 37% respectively, to the average ΣPBDE congener profile. Data from this study suggests that HBCDD levels decrease with age, it also suggests a positive association between bodyweight and HBCDD levels, which likewise requires a large-scale study to confirm this. The data also show that 10 years after their European ban, PBDE body burden has begun to decrease in the UK. Whilst it is too early to draw any firm conclusions for HBCDDs, they appear to be following a similar pattern to PBDEs, with levels decreasing by a factor of >2.5 since 2010. Whilst the human body burden appear to be decreasing, both PBDEs and HBCDD are still consistently detected in human serum, despite legislative action limiting their production and use. This highlights the need to continuously assess human exposure and the effectiveness of policy aimed at reducing exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108631
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date6 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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