chemical Class

Tribrominated diphenyl ether

Chemicals in the class:

PBDE-17, PBDE-25, PBDE-28, PBDE-30, PBDE-32, PBDE-33, PBDE-35, PBDE-37

Found in these people:

Suzie Canales, Jean Salone, Jennifer Hill-Kelley, Dr. Beverly Wright, Vivian Chang, Adult B, Adult #108, Baby #1, Baby #2, Baby #3, Baby #4, Baby #5, Baby #6, Baby #7, Baby #8, Baby #9, Anonymous Adult 1, Kathy Fowler, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter, Jenna Meyer, Katrina Alcorn, Tiffany Kimball, Teri Olle, Margaret Hardin, Susan Comfort, Angela Strother, Jill, Anonymous, Rani Corey-Sheaffer, Anonymous, Meredith Buhalis, Darcy White, Jennifer Scheinz, Laurie Yung, Lisa, Anonymous, Leila Feldman, Susanne Green, Erika Schreder, Sara Corbett, Cord Blood Sample 11, Cord Blood Sample 12, Cord Blood Sample 13, Cord Blood Sample 14, Cord Blood Sample 15, Cord Blood Sample 16, Cord Blood Sample 17, Cord Blood Sample 18, Cord Blood Sample 19, Cord Blood Sample 20, Participant #1, Participant #10, Fred Gellert, Adelaide Gomer, Ann Hunter-Welborn, Participant #18, Participant #2, Participant #20, Jessica Welborn, Alicia Wittink, Martha Davis, Emily Sayrs, Participant #6, Anonymous Adult RN7, Anonymous Teen 22, Anonymous Adult RN9, Anonymous Adult 2, Anonymous Adult 5, Anonymous Adult 4, Anonymous Teen 1, Anonymous Adult 12, Anonymous Adult 13, Anonymous Adult 11, Anonymous Adult 10, Anonymous Adult 14, Anonymous Adult 15, Anonymous Adult 16, Anonymous Adult 17, Anonymous Adult 20, Baby #10, Jesse Johnson, Winsome McIntosh, Judi Shils, Lynde Uihlein, Irene Crowe, Anonymous Adult, Anonymous Adult 3, Anonymous Adult 6, Anonymous Adult 7, Anonymous Adult 9, Anonymous Adult 18, Anonymous Adult 21, Susan Comfort, Anonymous Child #42, Katrina Alcorn, Ruby Alcorn, Greta Hardin, Tavin , Teri Olle, Natalie Comerford, Jennifer Scheinz, Elijah Scheinz, Hillary Dickman, Brynn Dickman, Laurie Yung, Conner Adams, Erika Schreder, Hannelore Peters, Christi, Lauren, Susanne Fleek, Mckenzie Green, Anonymous Mom #11, Anonymous Child #11, Laura Spark, Naomi Carrigg, Anonymous Mom #13, Anonymous Child #13, Tess, Nicolas, Mary Brune, Olivia Brune, Bronwyn, Teo, Anonymous Mom #17, Anonymous Child #17, Tracy Herndon, Zade Little, Maija West, Eva West, Liz, Evan

Found in these locations:

Corpus Christi, TX; Green Bay, WI; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Rockville, MD; Upstate New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; La Habra Heights, CA; Evergreen, CO; Washington, DC; Gainesville, FL; Canton, GA; Dorchester, MA; Jamiaca Plain, MA; Ann Arbor, MI; Raytown, MO; Helena, MT; Missoula, MT; Portland, OR; Nashville, TN; Austin, TX; Burke, VA; Seattle, WA; NY, USA; CA, USA; Belvedere, CA; Ithaca, NY; Encinitas, CA; VA, USA; CO, USA; Littleton, CO; MD, USA; Chicago, IL; Fredericksburg, VA; Atlanta, GA; Mountain View, CA; Stanford, CA; Palo Alto, CA; Berkeley, CA; Fallbrook, CA; Ross, CA; Milwaukee, WI; Newton, MA; Lamont, FL; Alamo, CA; Lake Forest Park, WA; Colorado Springs, CO; Minneapolis, MN; Anchorage, AK; Boston, MA; Alameda, CA; Riverside, CA; Taos, NM; Clinton, CT


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.

Tribrominated diphenyl ether

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.

Tribrominated diphenyl ether has been found in 138 of the 138 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.

Top health concerns for Tribrominated diphenyl ether (References)

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

Toxicity Classifications (References)

classification governing entity/references
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.
Reproductive effects - weight of evidence unknown/unassessedMcDonald, T. A. (2002). A perspective on the potential health risks of PBDEs. Chemosphere 46: 11.