An overview of brominated flame retardants in the environment

Chemosphere. 2002 Feb;46(5):583-624. doi: 10.1016/s0045-6535(01)00225-9.


The presence of brominated flame retardant (BFR) chemicals, and particularly polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), has become of increasing concern to scientists over the past decade. Environmental studies conducted primarily in Europe, Japan and North America indicate that these chemicals are ubiquitous in sediment and biota. The levels of PBDEs seem to be increasing, and several trends, including in humans, indicate that this increase may be rapid. The occurrence of high concentrations of certain PBDE isomers may be sufficient to elicit adverse effects in some wildlife. There is also concern that levels could cause adverse effects in sensitive human populations such as young children, indigenous peoples, and fish consumers. However, our knowledge about these chemicals, their sources, environmental behavior, and toxicity is limited, making risk assessment difficult. In this paper, the current state of knowledge is reviewed and areas for further research recommended to improve future monitoring and risk assessment efforts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Fishes
  • Flame Retardants / adverse effects*
  • Food Contamination
  • Humans
  • Phenyl Ethers / adverse effects
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / adverse effects*
  • Public Health
  • Risk Assessment


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Flame Retardants
  • Phenyl Ethers
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls