Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) levels in an expanded market basket survey of U.S. food and estimated PBDE dietary intake by age and sex

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Oct;114(10):1515-20. doi: 10.1289/ehp.9121.


Objectives: Our objectives in this study were to expand a previously reported U.S. market basket survey using a larger sample size and to estimate levels of PBDE intake from food for the U.S. general population by sex and age.

Methods: We measured concentrations of 13 polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners in food in 62 food samples. In addition, we estimated levels of PBDE intake from food for the U.S. general population by age (birth through > or = 60 years of age) and sex.

Results: In food samples, concentrations of total PBDEs varied from 7.9 pg/g (parts per trillion) in milk to 3,726 pg/g in canned sardines. Fish were highest in PBDEs (mean, 1,120 pg/g; median, 616 pg/g; range, 11.14-3,726 pg/g). This was followed by meat (mean, 383 pg/g; median, 190 pg/g; range, 39-1,426 pg/g) and dairy products (mean, 116 pg/g; median, 32.2 pg/g; range, 7.9-683 pg/g). However, using estimates for food consumption (excluding nursing infants), meat accounted for the highest U.S. dietary PBDE intake, followed by dairy and fish, with almost equal contributions. Adult females had lower dietary intake of PBDEs than did adult males, based on body weight. We estimated PBDE intake from food to be 307 ng/kg/day for nursing infants and from 2 ng/kg/day at 2-5 years of age for both males and females to 0.9 ng/kg/day in adult females.

Conclusion: Dietary exposure alone does not appear to account for the very high body burdens measured. The indoor environment (dust, air) may play an important role in PBDE body burdens in addition to food.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Ethers / analysis
  • Female
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Meat Products / analysis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • United States


  • Ethers
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls