Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) are a class of brominated flame retardants with some congeners having the ability to accumulate in body lipids. The incorporation of PBDE in consumer products found primarily in the indoor environment suggests that routes of exposure include inhalation of indoor air and contact with indoor dust. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that lifestyle factors, and in particular the proximity and use of products likely to contain PBDE in the indoor environment, are primarily responsible for levels of PBDE found in human milk. Human milk samples were taken from two populations of lactating women in the same geographic region of the United States: one "typical" of US suburban lifestyle, and the other practicing a traditional Amish lifestyle, which excludes many modern amenities containing PBDE, such as computers and televisions. For a subset of the cohort, persistent organic pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) were also measured in human milk samples. Despite the small number of participants, there is evidence suggestive of Amish women having lower PBDE concentrations in their milk. In addition, the nonsignificant differences in levels of PCBs and pesticides between the two groups of women as compared to the significant differences in levels of PBDE suggest an important route of exposure for PBDE other than diet. Information prepared for study participants is provided to initiate a dialogue on how to best communicate biomonitoring findings to study participants and to the public in general.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis