Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and “novel” brominated flame retardants in floor and elevated surface house dust from Iraq: Implications for human exposure assessment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Division of Food Science
  • University of Basrah


Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and selected novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) were measured in indoor dust from the living areas of 18 homes in Basrah, Iraq. This is the first report of contamination of the Iraqi environment with these chemicals. To evaluate the implications for human exposure, samples were collected from both the floor and from elevated surfaces like tables, shelves and chairs. When normalised for the organic carbon content of the dust sample, concentrations in elevated surface dust of BDE-99, BDE-209, pentabromoethylbenzene (PBEB), bis (2-ethylhexyl) 3,4,5,6-tetrabromophthalate (BEH-TEBP), and decabromodiphenylethane (DBDPE) exceeded significantly (p < 0.05) those in floor dust from the same rooms. This suggests that previous studies that base estimates of adult exposure via dust ingestion on floor dust, may underestimate exposure. Such underestimation is less likely for toddlers who are far more likely to ingest floor dust. Concentrations of PBDEs and NBFRs in indoor dust from Basrah, Iraq are at the lower end of levels reported elsewhere. The PBDE contamination pattern in our samples suggests that use in Iraq of the Deca-BDE formulation, exceeds substantially that of Penta-BDE, but that use of the Octa-BDE formulation has been higher in Iraq than in some other regions. Reassuringly, our estimates of exposure to our target BFRs via dust ingestion for the Iraqi population fall well below the relevant health-based limit values.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-13
Number of pages7
JournalEmerging Contaminants
Issue number1
Early online date29 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Elevated surface dust, Floor dust, Human exposure, Iraq, NBFRs, PBDEs