chemical information
CAS RN:

40088-47-9

Chemical Class:

Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)

Chemical SubClass

Tetrabrominated diphenyl ether

Manufacturing/Use Status

use/production has been voluntarily discontinued in the U.S.

Found in these people:

Anonymous, Susanne Green, Fred Gellert, Landon Gellert, Erika Schreder, Heather Gellert, Rani Corey-Sheaffer, Meredith Buhalis, Emily Sayrs, Susan Comfort, Anonymous Adult, Martha Davis, Participant #2, Teri Olle, Jenna Meyer, Adelaide Gomer, Anonymous, Participant #10, Participant #1, Annette Gellert, Ann Hunter-Welborn, Tiffany Kimball, Leila Feldman, Angela Strother, Participant #20, Jennifer Scheinz, Katrina Alcorn, Laurie Yung, Participant #6, Jill, Margaret Hardin, Anonymous, Participant #18, Darcy White, Lisa, Baby #10, Baby #8, Baby #2, Baby #3, Baby #4, Baby #1, Baby #5, Baby #7, Baby #9, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter, Baby #6, Kathy Fowler, Anonymous Adult 1, Anonymous Adult 21, Anonymous Adult 20, Anonymous Adult 18, Anonymous Adult 17, Anonymous Adult 16, Anonymous Adult 15, Anonymous Adult 14, Anonymous Adult 10, Anonymous Adult 11, Anonymous Adult 13, Anonymous Adult 12, Anonymous Adult 9, Anonymous Teen 1, Anonymous Adult 6, Anonymous Adult 7, Anonymous Adult 4, Anonymous Adult 5, Anonymous Adult 3, Anonymous Adult 2, Sara Corbett, Adult B, Adult #108, Vivian Chang, Dr. Beverly Wright, Jennifer Hill-Kelley, Jean Salone, Suzie Canales, Cord Blood Sample 20, Cord Blood Sample 19, Cord Blood Sample 17, Cord Blood Sample 14, Cord Blood Sample 13

Found in these locations:

Nashville, TN; Burke, VA; Belvedere, CA; Seattle, WA; Jamiaca Plain, MA; Ann Arbor, MI; Littleton, CO; Washington, DC; New York, NY; CO, USA; San Francisco, CA; Ithaca, NY; Dorchester, MA; CA, USA; Encinitas, CA; La Habra Heights, CA; Austin, TX; Gainesville, FL; Helena, MT; Oakland, CA; Missoula, MT; MD, USA; Canton, GA; Evergreen, CO; VA, USA; Raytown, MO; Portland, OR; Upstate New York, NY; Rockville, MD; Fallbrook, CA; Alamo, CA; Berkeley, CA; Palo Alto, CA; Stanford, CA; Mountain View, CA; Atlanta, GA; Lamont, FL; Fredericksburg, VA; Newton, MA; Chicago, IL; NY, USA; New Orleans, LA; Green Bay, WI; Corpus Christi, TX

Exposure routes:

Fire retardant in foam furniture, carpet padding, computers, televisions. Pollutant in house dust, food.


Summary

PBDEs are brominated fire retardants, intentionally added to flexible foam furniture--primarily mattresses, couches, padded chairs, pillows, carpet padding and vehicle upholstry.

These chemicals were withdrawn from the US market in 2005 due to their toxicity to laboratory animals, and their detection as contaminants in humans, wildlife, house and office buildings and common foods. (Sjodin 2003) People are primarily exposed to PBDEs in their homes, offices and vehicles. Secondary sources are foods, primarily meat, dairy, fish and eggs. (Schecter, Papke et al. 2005)

Studies of laboratory animals link PBDE exposure to an array of adverse health effects including thyroid hormone disruption, permanent learning and memory impairment, behavioral changes, hearing deficits, delayed puberty onset, decreased sperm count, and fetal malformations. (Darnerud 2003; Hale R.C. 2003) Research in animals shows that exposure to brominated fire retardants in-utero or during infancy leads to more significant harm than exposure during adulthood, and at much lower levels.(Viberg H 2006)

PBDEs are bioaccumulative and lipophilic ('fat-loving') therefore highly persistent in people and the environment. The chemicals build up in the body, are stored in fatty tissues and body fluids, such as blood and breast milk, and can be passed on to fetuses and infants during pregnancy and lactation. Despite their phase-out from commerce, human exposure will continue for decades to come.




PBDE-49

Brominated fire retardants used in polyurethan foam and plastics. These PBDEs are neurotoxic and persist in people and the environment. They were withdrawn from the market in the U.S. in 2005.

PBDE-49 has been found in 85 of the 98 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.


Top health concerns for PBDE-49 (References)

health concern or target organ weight of evidence
Reproduction and fertilityunknown
Brain and nervous systemunknown


Results for PBDE-49

PBDE-49 was measured in different units for some of the studies. Overall it was found in 85 of 98 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. The bars below are grouped by units:

in blood serum (lipid weight)

Showing results from EWG Study #6, consumer product chemicals in mothers and daughters, Pets Project, Pollution in Minority Newborns, Adult Minority Leader Report, EWG/Commonweal Study #4, industrial chemicals and pesticides in cord blood, EWG/Commonweal Study #7, consumer product chemicals in adults and teens, Dateline NBC Families, EWG Study #8, chemicals in mother and 2 children, EWG Study #3, industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults, Other Body Burden Studies, Dateline NBC Families

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: 0.0647 ng/g (lipid weight) in blood serum
  • found in 65 of 78 people in the group
0 ng/g (lipid weight) in blood serum 1.26


PBDE-49 results

in breast milk (lipid weight)

Showing results from EWG Study #2, flame retardants in breast milk

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: 0.248 ppb (lipid weight) in breast milk
  • found in 20 of 20 people in the group
0.04 ppb (lipid weight) in breast milk 3.69


PBDE-49 results


Detailed toxicity classifications (References)

classification governing entity/references
Reproductive effects - weight of evidence unknown/unassessedMcDonald, T. A. (2002). A perspective on the potential health risks of PBDEs. Chemosphere 46: 11.
Nervous system toxicity - weight of evidence unknown/unassessedViberg, H., Fredriksson, A., Jakobsson, E., Orn, U., Eriksson, P. (2003). Neurobehavioral derangements in adult mice receiving decabrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE 209) during a defined period of neonatal brain development. Toxicol Sci 76(1): 112-20.