Assessing PBDE Exposure Pathways

Funding Source: NIEHS R01 ES015829
PI: Tom Webster, DSc, BUSPH
Co-Investigators: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH; Heather Stapleton, PhD, Duke University

ebrg_1Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a family of fire retardants commonly used in consumer products including electronics and furniture containing polyurethane foam. Concentrations of PBDEs in human serum and environmental media have been increasing over the last few decades and laboratory experiments demonstrate that PBDEs are toxic to the reproductive and nervous systems of young animals, but considerably less is known about their effects in people. Suspected routes include diet as well as incidental ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposure to dust. Preliminary assessments of exposure suggest an association exists between the concentrations of PBDEs found in house dust and blood serum levels of the inhabitants, however little research has been done to identify other sources of exposure including dietary habits as well as the office and vehicular environments.

Our current investigation (FLaRE Study) measures human exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in three indoor microenvironments (office workplace, home and vehicle) using concurrent sampling of air, dust, urine, blood, and skin-wipes. As part of this project, research assistants obtain repeated measurements of PBDEs in consumer products (source), dust and air samples (microenvironments), skin-wipe samples (personal exposure), human serum (total absorbed dose), and hormones in serum as a measure of early effect. We aim to improve the characterization of PBDE exposure pathways and ultimately assess the relative importance of air, dust, and diet with respect to total absorbed dose of PBDEs and hormone levels.

Results from this study will fill gaps in the knowledge of human exposure to PBDEs and in the future may be used in combination with emerging toxicologic data to determine health standards. In addition to PBDEs, little is known about the health effects or exposure routes of humans to tris-(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (chlorinated tris) and other emerging flame retardants, therefore evaluating these compounds in the environmental (air and dust) and personal (skin-wipe and urine) samples in conjunction with this study will clarify sources and levels of human exposure.

For additional information about our PBDE research please visit BUSPH’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Environmental Exposures and Health.

Publications

  • Webster TF, Stapleton HM, McClean MD. Exposure to PBDEs in the Indoor Environment. Fire Technology [in press].
  • Fang M; Webster TF, Gooden D, Cooper EM, McClean MD, Carignan C, Makey C, Stapleton HM. Investigating A Novel Flame Retardant Known as V6: Measurements in Baby Products, House Dust and Car Dust. Environ Sci Technol 2013, 47: 4449–4454.
  • Watkins DJ, McClean MD, Fraser AJ, Weinberg J, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. Associations between PBDEs in office air, dust, and surface wipes. Environment International 2013; 59:124–132
  • Watkins DJ, McClean MD, Fraser AJ, Weinberg J, Stapleton HM, Sjödin A, Webster TF. 2011. Impact of dust from multiple microenvironments and diet on pentaBDE body burden. Environ Sci Technol. Published on-line December 5, 2011. PMCID: PMC3268060
  • Fraser AJ, Webster TF, Watkins DW, Nelson JW, Stapleton HM, Calafat AM, Kato K, Shoeib M, Vieira VM, McClean MD. 2012. Polyfluorinated compounds in serum linked to indoor air in office environments. Environ Sci Technol. 46: 1209-15. PMCID: PMC3262923
  • Carignan CC, Wu N, Abdallah M, Heiger-Bernays W, McClean MD, Harrad S, Webster TF. 2011. Predictors of HBCDs and TBBPA in Milk from Boston Mothers. SETAC North America 32nd Annual Meeting. November 12-17. Boston, MA.
  • Carignan CC, Cooper EM, Watkins DJ, Fraser AJ, Heiger-Bernays W, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. Predictors of TDCPP Metabolite in Office-Worker Urine. SETAC North America 32nd Annual Meeting. November 12-17. Boston, MA.
  • Carignan CC, Cooper EM, Watkins DJ, Fraser AJ, Heiger-Bernays W, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. 2011. Predictors of TDCPP Metabolite in Office-Worker Urine. International Society of Exposure Science Conference. October 23-27. Baltimore, MD.
  • Carignan CC, Wu N, Abdallah M, Heiger-Bernays W, McClean MD, Harrad S, Webster TF. 2011. Predictors of HBCDs and TBBPA in Milk from Boston Mothers. International Society of Exposure Science Conference. October 23-27. Baltimore, MD.
  • Watkins DJ, McClean MD, Fraser AJ, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. 2011. Relationships between PBDEs in office air, dust, and surfaces wipes. 12th Workshop on Brominated and other Flame Retardants. June 5-7. Boston, MA.
  • Watkins DJ, McClean MD, Fraser AJ, Stapleton HM, Sjödin A, Webster TF. 2011. Impact of dust from multiple microenvironments and diet on penta-BDE body burden. 12th Workshop on Brominated and other Flame Retardants. June 5-7. Boston, MA.
  • Watkins DJ, McClean MD, Fraser AJ, Weinberg J, Stapleton HM, Sjödin A, Webster TF. 2011. Exposure to PBDEs in the office environment: Evaluating the relationship between dust, handwipes and serum. Environ Health Perspect. Published on-line: July 1.PMCID: PMC3230398
  • Webster TF, Watkins DJ, Walker C, Fraser AJ, Heiger-Bernays W, Stapleton HW, McClean MD. 2010. PentaBDE Alternatives in Homes, Offices and Cars. Fifth International Symposium of Brominated Flame Retardants. April 7-9. Kyoto, Japan.
  • Watkins DJ, Fraser AJ, Stapleton HW, Sjodin A, Webster TF, McClean MD. 2010. Exposure to PBDEs in Offices: Connecting Dust, Handwipes, and Serum. Fifth International Symposium of Brominated Flame Retardants. April 7-9. Kyoto, Japan.
  • Fraser AJ, Webster TF, Watkins DJ, Nelson JW, Stapleton HM, Calafat AM, Shoeib M, Kato K, Vieira VM, McClean MD. 2010. PFCS in indoor office air: Concentrations and contribution to exposure. PFAA Days III. June 8-10. Research Triangle Park, NC.
  • >Watkins DJ, McClean MD, Fraser AJ, Stapleton HM, Sjödin A, Webster TF. 2010. Exposure to PBDEs in Offices: Connecting Dust, Handwipes, and Serum. 30th International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) – Dioxin 2010. September 12-17. San Antonio, TX.
  • Fraser AJ, Webster TF, Watkins DJ, Nelson JW, Stapleton HM, Calafat AM, Shoeib M, Kato K, Vieira VM, McClean MD. 2010. PFCS in indoor office air: Concentrations and contribution to exposure. 30th International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) – Dioxin 2010. September 12-17. San Antonio, TX.

Presentations

  • Fraser AJ, Webster TF, McClean MD. 2009. Diet contributes significantly to the body burden of PBDEs in the general U.S. population. Presented at the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Conference. August 26. Dublin, Ireland.
  • Stapleton HM, Klosterhaus S, Fuh J, Eagle S, Meeker JD, Blum A, McClean MD, Webster TF. Detection of chlorinated phosphate flame retardants in furniture foam and ambient measurements of phosphate flame retardants in US house dust. 11th Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants. May 19-20. Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Webster TF, Harrad S, Millette JR, Holbrook RD, Davis JM, Stapleton HM, Allen JG, McClean MD, Ibarra C, Abdallah MA, Covaci A. 2009. How does BDE209 get from products into dust? Insights environmental forensic microscopy. 11th Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants. May 19-20. Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Webster TF, Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM. 2008. Sources of DecaBDE in House Dust. ISEE-ISEA. October 12-16. Pasadena, CA.
  • Webster TF, Harrad S, Millette JR, Holbrook RD, Davis JM, Stapleton HM, Allen JG, McClean MD, Ibarra C, Abou-Elwafa AM, Covaci A. 2008. Identifying sources of decaBDE in indoor environments using forensic microscopy. Dioxin 2008: 28th International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Compounds. August 17-22. Birmingham, UK.
  • Webster TF, McClean MD, Allen JG, Stapleton HM. 2008. Residential exposure to PBDEs: From product to person. Dioxin 2008: 28th International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Compounds. August 17-22. Birmingham, UK.
  • Stapleton HM, Allen JG, Kelly SM, McClean MD, Klosterhaus S, Konstantinov A, Watkins D, Webster TF. 2008. Alternative and new brominated flame retardants detected in house dust. 10th Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants. June 3-4. Victoria, BC Canada.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. 2007. Exposure to PBDEs and BTBPE in the indoor environment. 46th Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology. March 25-29. Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. 2008. Televisions as sources of decaBDE: XRF-measured bromine in televisions is associated with decaBDE dust concentrations. 10th Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants. June 3-4. Victoria, BC Canada.
  • Fraser AJ, McClean MD, Webster TF. 2008. Diet predicts serum PBDEs in the United States general population. 10th Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants. June 3-4. Victoria, BC Canada.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. 2007. Characterization of PBDEs in House Dust: Comparison of Collection Methods and Relationship to Indoor Air. Fourth International Brominated Flame Retardant (BFR) Workshop. April 24-27. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Awarded prize for student research.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. 2007. Linking PBDEs in House Dust to Consumer Products using X-Ray Fluorescence. Fourth International Brominated Flame Retardant (BFR) Workshop. April 24-27. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Nelson JW, Sanchez G, Fraser AJ, Webster TF. 2007. Personal and indoor air exposure to PBDEs in US urban residences. Presented at the Boston University Science and Engineering Research Symposium. April 2. Boston, MA. Awarded prize for student research.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Nelson JW, Sanchez G, Fraser AJ, Webster TF. 2006. Personal and indoor air exposure to PBDEs in US urban residences. The Eighth Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants in the Environment. June 27-29. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Nelson JW, Sanchez G, Fraser AJ, Webster TF. 2006. Personal and area indoor air monitoring of PBDEs in US urban residences. International Conference on Environmental Epidemiology and Exposure. September 3-6. Paris, France.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Nelson JW, Sanchez G, Fraser AJ, Webster TF. 2006. Personal and indoor air exposures to PBDEs in US urban residences. Organohalogen Compounds. 68: 2198-2201.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. 2007. PBDEs in dust: Between- and Within home variation linked to XRF characterization of consumer products. Organohalogen Compounds. 69: 1002-04.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Nelson JW, Webster TF. 2007. Personal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers in residential indoor air. Environ Sci Technol. 41(13): 4574-9.
  • Wu N, Herrmann T, Paepke O, Tickner J, Hale R, Harvey E, La Guardia M, Jacobs E, McClean MD, Webster T. 2007. Human exposure to PBDEs: Associations of PBDE body burdens with food consumption and house dust concentrations. Environ Sci Technol. 41(5): p.1584-9.
  • Stapleton HM, Kelly SM, Allen JG, McClean MD, Webster TF. 2008. Measurement of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers on Hand Wipes: Estimating Exposure from Hand to Mouth Contact. Environ Sci Technol. 42(9): 3329-34.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, and Webster TF. 2008. Linking PBDEs in House Dust to Consumer Products using X-ray Fluorescence. Environ Sci Technol. 42(11):4222-28.
  • Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF. 2008. Critical factors in assessing exposure to PBDEs via house dust. Environment International. 34(8): 1085-91.
  • Stapleton HM, Allen JG, Kelly SM, Konstantinov A, Klosterhaus S, Watkins D, McClean MD, Webster TF. 2008. Alternate and New Brominated Flame Retardants Detected in US House Dust. Environ Sci Technol. 42(18): 6910–16.
  • Stapleton HM, Allen JG, Kelly S, Konstantinov A, Klosterhaus S, McClean MD, Webster TF. 2008. Alternate and new brominated flame retardants detected in US house dust. Organohalogen Compounds. 70: 438-41.
  • Webster TF, McClean MD, Allen JG, Stapleton HM. 2008. Residential exposure to PBDEs: From product to person. Organohalogen Compounds. 70: 697-700.
  • Wu N, McClean MD, Brown P, Aschengrau A, Webster TF. 2009. Participant Experiences in a Breastmilk Biomonitoring Study. Environmental Health. 8:4. PMCID: PMC2649062.
  • Fraser AJ, Webster TF, McClean MD. 2009. Diet contributes significantly to the body burden of PBDEs in the general U.S. population. Environ Health Perspect. 117(10): 1520-5. PMCID: PMC2790504.
  • Stapleton HM, Klosterhaus S, Eagle S, Fuh J, Meeker JD, Blum A, Watkins DJ, McClean MD, Webster TF. 2009. Identification of tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate and other organophosphate flame retardants in US indoor environments. Organohalogen Compounds. 71: 1577-1580.
  • Watkins DJ, Stapleton HM, Chan S, McClean MD, Webster TF. 2009. PBDE exposure: Which is more important, homes or offices? Organohalogen Compounds. 71: 2406-2407.
  • Webster TF, Harrad S, Millette JR, Holbrook RD, Davis JM, Stapleton HM, Allen JG, McClean MD, Ibarra C, Abdallah MA, Covaci A. 2009. Identifying transfer mechanisms and sources of decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE 209) in indoor environments using environmental forensic microscopy. Environ Sci Technol. 43(9): 3067-72. PMCID: PMC2722073.