Determinants of polybrominated biphenyl serum decay among women in the Michigan PBB cohort

Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Feb;108(2):147-52. doi: 10.1289/ehp.00108147.


Accidental contamination of the food chain in Michigan in 1973 with polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) led to the establishment of a registry of exposed individuals in 1976. Serum was collected and analyzed for PBB at the time of enrollment and for targeted studies in the following years. We used the archived PBB data to study the elimination of PBB and to identify factors associated with elimination. A total of 380 women >= 16 years of age who had an initial PBB level of 2 ppb and at least two serum samples drawn when they were not pregnant were included in the analysis. The mean initial PBB level was 20.9 ppb (median 4) and mean time between the first and last measurement was 4.2 years (range 0.5-11.1). PBB was assumed to reach equilibrium in the body before substantial amounts were eliminated and before the first serum measurements were taken; therefore, the entire body was modeled as a single compartment for PBB with exponential decay. Subject-specific decay rate estimates were regressed on predictor variables including initial age, body mass index (BMI), smoking history, breast-feeding duration, and parity. In women with an initial PBB level < 10 ppb, the median half-life was 12.9 years; in those with > 10 ppb, the median half-life was 28.7 years. Decay was significantly slower among women with an initial BMI at or above the median (BMI >= 23). The calculated half-life values are estimates of decay and can be used to estimate body burden of PBB at various points in time other than at the time of serum collection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination*
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / blood
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / pharmacokinetics*
  • Registries


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls