Health consequences of exposure to brominated flame retardants : a systematic review

Kim, Young Ran, Harden, Fiona, Toms, Leisa-Maree, & Norman, Rosana E. (2014) Health consequences of exposure to brominated flame retardants : a systematic review. Chemosphere, 106, pp. 1-19.

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Brominated flame retardants (BFRs), are chemicals widely used in consumer products including electronics, vehicles, plastics and textiles to reduce flammability. Experimental animal studies have confirmed that these compounds may interfere with thyroid hormone homeostasis and neurodevelopment but to date health effects in humans have not been systematically examined.


To conduct a systematic review of studies on the health impacts of exposure to BFRs in humans, with a particular focus on children.


A systematic review was conducted using the Medline and EMBASE electronic databases up to 1 February 2012. Published cohort, cross-sectional, and case-control studies exploring the relationship between BFR exposure and various health outcomes were included.


In total, 36 epidemiological studies meeting the pre-determined inclusion criteria were included. Plausible outcomes associated with BFR exposure include diabetes, neurobehavioral and developmental disorders, cancer, reproductive health effects and alteration in thyroid function. Evidence for a causal relationship between exposure to BFRs and health outcomes was evaluated within the Bradford Hill framework.


Although there is suggestive evidence that exposure to BFRs is harmful to health, further epidemiological investigations particularly among children, and long-term monitoring and surveillance of chemical impacts on humans are required to confirm these relationships.

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ID Code: 78631
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: brominated flame retardants, children, exposure, human, health
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.12.064
ISSN: 0045-6535
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT (050200) > Environmental Monitoring (050206)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Epidemiology (111706)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Chemosphere. 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 Chemosphere, [VOL 104, (2014)] DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.12.064
Deposited On: 12 Nov 2014 23:06
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2016 02:42

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