Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in foodstuffs: human exposure through the diet

J Agric Food Chem. 2003 May 7;51(10):3191-5. doi: 10.1021/jf0340916.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used as flame retardants in a variety of materials, including synthetic polymers and textiles. Although these chemicals have been detected in environmental samples and human tissues, there is little information about human exposure to PBDEs through the diet. In the present study, we determined the concentrations of PBDEs in a number of food samples acquired in Catalonia (Spain) during 2000. The dietary intake of PBDEs was estimated for the general population living in this Spanish region. The highest PBDE concentrations were found in oils and fats, fish and shellfish, meat and meat products, and eggs, while the lowest levels corresponded to fruits, vegetables, and tubers. The dietary intake of PBDEs for an adult male was 97.3 ng/day (assuming not detected (ND) = (1)/(2) limit of detection (LOD)) or 81.9 ng/day (assuming ND = 0) The greatest contribution to these values corresponded to fish and shellfish, with approximately one-third of the total intake. TetraBDEs and pentaBDEs were the homologues showing the highest percentages of contribution to the sum of total PBDEs. The comparison of the current dietary intake with the suggested lowest observed adverse effect level value of 1 mg/kg/day for the most sensitive endpoints for toxic effects of PBDEs results in a safety factor over 5 orders of magnitude in relation to PBDE exposure from food.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / analysis
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / analysis
  • Eggs / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Ethers / analysis
  • Fishes
  • Food Analysis*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat / analysis
  • Meat Products / analysis
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Shellfish / analysis
  • Spain
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Ethers
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls