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:

Lynde Uihlein, Jesse Johnson, Landon Gellert, Heather Gellert, Participant #2, Ann Hunter-Welborn, Irene Crowe, Annette Gellert, Adelaide Gomer, Fred Gellert, Emily Sayrs, Anonymous Adult, Participant #20, Martha Davis, Participant #10, Participant #1, Participant #6, Participant #18, Baby #7, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter, Baby #6, Anonymous Adult 1, Anonymous Adult 13, Adult B, Vivian Chang, Jennifer Hill-Kelley, Jean Salone, Cord Blood Sample 13

Found in these locations:

Milwaukee, WI; New York, NY; Belvedere, CA; CO, USA; Encinitas, CA; Washington, DC; Ithaca, NY; Littleton, CO; CA, USA; MD, USA; VA, USA; Upstate New York, NY; Stanford, CA; Oakland, CA; 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These chemicals were withdrawn from the US market in 2005 due to their toxicity to laboratory animals, and their detection as contaminants in humans, wildlife, house and office buildings and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-51

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-51 has been found in 29 of the 78 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.


Top health concerns for PBDE-51 (References)

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


Results for PBDE-51

in blood serum (lipid weight)

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

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: 0.00577 ng/g (lipid weight) in blood serum
  • found in 29 of 78 people in the group
0 ng/g (lipid weight) in blood serum 0.191


PBDE-51 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.