Dermal contact with furniture fabrics is a significant pathway of human exposure to brominated flame retardants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Despite extensive application in consumer products and concerns over their adverse health effects, how external exposure to brominated flame retardants (BFRs) contributes to their human body burdens is not yet fully understood. While recent studies focused on inadvertent indoor dust ingestion and diet as potential major pathways of exposure, dermal uptake has been largely overlooked. We provide the first experimentally-based assessment of dermal uptake of BFRs via contact with indoor dust and flame-retarded furniture fabrics. Results reveal substantial uptake from furniture fabrics (e.g. 8.1 ng pentaBDE/kg bw/day for adults in summer), exceeding the overall adult intake of pentaBDE estimated previously via other exposure pathways. For HBCDs, despite the low absorption fraction (<2.5%) from the studied fabrics, the estimated dermal uptake of UK adults and toddlers (101 and 76.9 ng/kg bw/day) exceed the reported average daily intakes of 7.9 and 43.0 ng/kg bw/day for these UK age groups. Conversely, uptake from dust was low (0.05 and 0.19 ng pentaBDE/kg bw/day for adults and toddlers, respectively), indicating previous pharmacokinetic approaches have overestimated significance of this route. Future exposure and risk assessment studies should consider dermal contact with treated products as a significant pathway of human exposure to BFRs and related chemicals.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date26 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • dermal uptake , human exposure , BFRs , indoor dust , fabrics