Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in matched samples of human milk, dust and indoor air

Toms, Leisa-Maree L., Hearn, Laurence, Kennedy, Karen, Harden, Fiona, Bartkow, Michael, Temme, Christian, & Mueller, Jochen F. (2009) Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in matched samples of human milk, dust and indoor air. Environment International, 35(6), pp. 864-869.

View at publisher


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are lipophilic, persistent pollutants found worldwide in environmental and human samples. Exposure pathways for PBDEs remain unclear but may include food, air and dust. The aim of this study was to conduct an integrated assessment of PBDE exposure and human body burden using 10 matched samples of human milk, indoor air and dust collected in 2007–2008 in Brisbane, Australia. In addition, temporal analysis was investigated comparing the results of the current study with PBDE concentrations in human milk collected in 2002–2003 from the same region.

PBDEs were detected in all matrices and the median concentrations of BDEs -47 and -209 in human milk, air and dust were: 4.2 and 0.3 ng/g lipid; 25 and 7.8 pg/m3; and 56 and 291 ng/g dust, respectively. Significant correlations were observed between the concentrations of BDE-99 in air and human milk (r = 0.661, p = 0.038) and BDE-153 in dust and BDE-183 in human milk (r = 0.697, p = 0.025). These correlations do not suggest causal relationships — there is no hypothesis that can be offered to explain why BDE-153 in dust and BDE-183 in milk are correlated. The fact that so few correlations were found in the data could be a function of the small sample size, or because additional factors, such as sources of exposure not considered or measured in the study, might be important in explaining exposure to PBDEs. There was a slight decrease in PBDE concentrations from 2002–2003 to 2007–2008 but this may be due to sampling and analytical differences. Overall, average PBDE concentrations from these individual samples were similar to results from pooled human milk collected in Brisbane in 2002–2003 indicating that pooling may be an efficient, cost-effective strategy of assessing PBDE concentrations on a population basis.

The results of this study were used to estimate an infant's daily PBDE intake via inhalation, dust ingestion and human milk consumption. Differences in PBDE intake of individual congeners from the different matrices were observed. Specifically, as the level of bromination increased, the contribution of PBDE intake decreased via human milk and increased via dust. As the impacts of the ban of the lower brominated (penta- and octa-BDE) products become evident, an increased use of the higher brominated deca-BDE product may result in dust making a greater contribution to infant exposure than it does currently.

To better understand human body burden, further research is required into the sources and exposure pathways of PBDEs and metabolic differences influencing an individual's response to exposure. In addition, temporal trend analysis is necessary with continued monitoring of PBDEs in the human population as well as in the suggested exposure matrices of food, dust and air.

Impact and interest:

84 citations in Scopus
76 citations in Web of Science®
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

82 since deposited on 10 Feb 2010
17 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 30345
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: PBDEs, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, Human milk, Air , Dust, Intake, Exposure
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2009.03.001
ISSN: 0160-4120
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT (050200) > Environmental Management (050205)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Medical Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd.
Copyright Statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Environment International. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Environment International, [Volume 35, Issue 6, (August 2009)] DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2009.03.001
Deposited On: 10 Feb 2010 22:18
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2014 00:07

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page