Serum concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) in the United States population: 2003-2004

Andreas Sjödin, Lee Yang Wong, Richard S. Jones, Annie Park, Yalin Zhang, Carolyn Hodge, Emily Dipietro, Cheryl Mcclure, Wayman Turner, Larry L. Needham, Donald G. Patterson

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Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and 2,2′,4,4′,5, 5′-hexabromobiphenyl (BB-153) are chemicals known as brominated flame retardants. We have assessed the exposure status of the United States population to PBDEs and BB-153 and explored associations with demographic information, including participants' age, sex, and race/ethnicity. A total of 2,062 serum samples, from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 aged 12 years and older, were analyzed for PBDEs and BB-153; stratified and regression analyses were used to examine levels among demographic groups. The congener with the highest serum concentration was 2,2′,4,4′-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) [geometric mean 20.5 ng/g lipid]; followed by 2,2′,4,4′,5,5′-hexaBDE (BDE-153) [5.7 ng/g lipid]; 2,2′,4,4′,5-pentaBDE (BDE-99) [5.0 ng/g lipid; a value equal to the highest limit of detection for an individual sample]; 2,2′,4,4′,6-pentaBDE (BDE-100) [3.9 ng/g lipid]; BB-153 [2.3 ng/g lipid]; and 2,4,4′-triBDE (BDE-28) [1.2 ng/g lipid]. For BDE-47, we observed no significant difference in the least-squares geometric mean (LSGM) by sex, but with age we found both a linear decrease (p = 0.01) and a positive quadratic trend (p = 0.01). Its LSGM, 27.9 ng/lipid, in the 12-19 year olds decreased to 17.2 ng/g lipid in the 40-49 year group, and then curved upward to 20.4 ng/g lipid in the ≥60 years olds. Mexican Americans had the highest LSGM of BDE-47 (24.5 ng/g lipid), which was significantly higher than that of non-Hispanic whites (19.7 ng/g lipid, p = 0.01). Adults 60 years and older were twice as likely as adults 20-59 years old to have a serum BDE-47 concentration above the 95th percentile (p = 0.02). These data provide needed exposure assessment data for public health decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1377-1384
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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