chemical information


Chemical Class:

Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)

Chemical SubClass

Decabrominated diphenyl ether

Manufacturing/Use Status

there are no restrictions on the production/use in the U.S.

Found in these people:

Baby #3, Baby #4, Baby #5, Kathy Fowler, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter, Teri Olle, Margaret Hardin, Susan Comfort, Angela Strother, Jill, Rani Corey-Sheaffer, Anonymous, Meredith Buhalis, Darcy White, Jennifer Scheinz, Laurie Yung, Lisa, Anonymous, Leila Feldman, Susanne Green, Erika Schreder, Anonymous Child #17, Teo, Bronwyn, Olivia Brune, Anonymous Mom #13, Anonymous Child #13, Naomi Carrigg, Laura Spark, Anonymous Child #11, Anonymous Mom #11, Mckenzie Green, Lauren, Hannelore Peters, Erika Schreder, Laurie Yung, Brynn Dickman, Jennifer Scheinz, Tavin , Greta Hardin, Anonymous Child #42, Zade Little, Maija West, Adult B, Cord Blood Sample 11, Cord Blood Sample 13, Cord Blood Sample 16, Cord Blood Sample 18, Cord Blood Sample 19

Found in these locations:

Rockville, MD; Upstate New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; Evergreen, CO; Washington, DC; Gainesville, FL; Canton, GA; Jamiaca Plain, MA; Ann Arbor, MI; Raytown, MO; Helena, MT; Missoula, MT; Portland, OR; Nashville, TN; Austin, TX; Burke, VA; Seattle, WA; Riverside, CA; Alameda, CA; Boston, MA; Anchorage, AK; Minneapolis, MN; Colorado Springs, CO; Lake Forest Park, WA; Taos, NM

Exposure routes:

Fire retardant in computers, televisions. Pollutant in house dust, food.


PBDE 209 (Deca) is the only form of PBDEs that is unregulated in the United States. Deca is widely used in television and computer housings, cell phones and electronic products. There is growing evidence that Deca breaks down in the environment to more persistent and toxic forms, and that it is directly impacts learning, memory and behavior in laboratory animals.


A fire retardant used in TVs, monitors and electronics. Growing evidence that chemical breaks down in the environment to more persistent and toxic forms.

PBDE-209 has been found in 55 of the 138 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.

Top health concerns for PBDE-209 (References)

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

Results for PBDE-209

PBDE-209 was measured in different units for some of the studies. Overall it was found in 55 of 138 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. The bars below are grouped by units:

in blood serum (lipid weight)

Showing results from EWG/Commonweal Study #7, consumer product chemicals in adults and teens, EWG/Commonweal Study #4, industrial chemicals and pesticides in cord blood, EWG Study #3, industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults, EWG Study #6, consumer product chemicals in mothers and daughters, EWG Study #8, chemicals in mother and 2 children, EWG Study #9, flame retardants in mothers and children, Other Body Burden Studies, Adult Minority Leader Report, Pollution in Minority Newborns, Dateline NBC Families, Dateline NBC Families, Pets Project

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: ng/g (lipid weight) in blood serum
  • found in 39 of 118 people in the group
ng/g (lipid weight) in blood serum 360

PBDE-209 results

in breast milk (lipid weight)

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

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: 0.134 ppb (lipid weight) in breast milk
  • found in 16 of 20 people in the group
ppb (lipid weight) in breast milk 1.23

PBDE-209 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.