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Exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in American and Canadian workers: Biomonitoring data from two national surveys

TitleExposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in American and Canadian workers: Biomonitoring data from two national surveys
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsGravel, S., Lavoué J., and Labrèche F.
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume631 - 632
Pages1465 - 1471
Keywordsbiomonitoring, flame retardants, human, national survey, occupational exposure

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants commonly found in many household and industrial products. They can be detected in the serum of the general population, and in even higher concentrations in workers of certain industries, due to an additional occupational exposure. The purpose of this analysis is to determine background exposure levels of PBDEs in the general working population, using national surveys where working status was self-reported. Participants aged 20–65 were selected from the 2003–2004 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (n = 1141) and the 2007–2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey (n = 1337). Only four congeners were detected in at least 25% of samples for both surveys: BDE47, 99, 100 and 153. NHANES workers had a geometric mean (GM [95% C.I.]) BDE47 concentration of 20.9 ng/g lipids [19.3, 22.7], and CHMS workers, 11.4 ng/g lipids [10.8, 12.1]. PBDE levels were not statistically significantly different between workers and non-workers, except for BDE153 in CHMS. Among workers, women had a significantly lower concentration of BDE153 than men in both surveys (% change [95% C.I.] with 1 ng/g lipid increase: -33.4% [-49.0, -12.9] in NHANES, -18.8% [-27.5, - 8.9] in CHMS), in regressions adjusted for age, body mass index, smoking status, ethnicity and education. CHMS workers in the Information, finance, real-estate, and education industry group had significantly higher BDE47 concentrations than non-workers. These results indicate a high exposure to PBDEs in two North American countries, compared to data from other national surveys. The heterogeneity of the data did not permit a clear-cut distinction between workers and non-workers. Sex differences noted with BDE153 are consistent with those reported in other human exposure assessments and animal studies. Overall, industry-specific concentrations showed no particular pattern across both surveys. Despite some limitations, these data provide a useful estimate of the background exposure to PBDEs in American and Canadian workers.

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