Production, demand, and consumption of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) have increased rapidly over the past 20 years as has the potential for human exposure. BFRs are included in textiles, plastics, foams, electronics, and building materials to prevent fires. They are known to be persistent, lipophilic, bioaccumulate through the food web and spread easily to soil, water, and air. Humans are exposed through consumption of contaminated foods, inhalation/ingestion of contaminated dust, and occupational exposure. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) are the most common BFR and spread to the environment during production, leakage from a product or during the breakdown of the product containing PBDE. All sources of PBDEs and pathways of exposure are yet to be identified. However, research indicates indoor exposure (air/dust) may be of higher importance than diet. The aim of this systematic review was to determine the concentration of exposure to PBDE through dust and where most exposure occurs.
Database searches of MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, ScienceDirect, and Web of Science until 2010, in the English language. Key words used: brominated flame retardan*, flame retardan*, PBDE*, polybrominated diphenyl ether*, dust.
Median levels of BDE-209 in homes ranged 63–10,000 ng g−1. In a study of 20 vehicles concentrations ranged from 12,000 to 2,600,000 ng g−1, median 100,000 ng g−1. Highest levels of PBDEs are found in offices and recently built homes with carpet and air-conditioning; lowest levels have been found in older homes without air-conditioning. Higher levels of PBDE are found in vehicles than in homes, PBDEs are abundant in the internal structure of vehicles. BDE-209 is the most dominant congener detected in dust samples, found in highest concentrations in the United Kingdom. In the main reported levels in United States are significantly higher than anywhere in the world.
PBDEs are commonly detected in home/vehicle/office environments. However, little is known about the health risks of exposure.