Linking PBDEs in house dust to consumer products using X-ray fluorescence

Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Jun 1;42(11):4222-8. doi: 10.1021/es702964a.


The indoor environment is an important source of exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a class of fire retardants used in many household products. Previous attempts to link PBDE concentrations in house dust to consumer products have been hampered by the inability to determine the presence of PBDEs in otherwise similar products. We used a portable X-rayfluorescence (XRF) analyzer to nondestructively quantify bromine concentrations in consumer goods. In the validation phase, XRF-measured bromine was highly correlated with GC/MS-measured bromine for furniture foam and plastic from electronics (n = 29, r = 0.93, p < 0.0001). In the field study phase, the XRF-measured bromine in room furniture was associated with pentaBDE concentrations in room dust in the bedroom (r = 0.68, p = 0.001) and main living area (r = 0.51, p = 0.02). We also found an association between XRF-measured bromine levels in electronics and decaBDE levels in dust, largely driven by the high levels in televisions (r = 0.64, p = 0.003 for bedrooms). For the main living area, predicting decaBDE in dust improved when we included an interaction effect between the bromine content of televisions and the number of persons in the house (p < 0.005), a potential surrogate for television usage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Bromine / analysis*
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Electronics
  • Environmental Monitoring / instrumentation*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Flame Retardants / analysis*
  • Fluorescence
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Phenyl Ethers / analysis*
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • X-Rays


  • Dust
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Flame Retardants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Phenyl Ethers
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • pentabromodiphenyl ether
  • decabromobiphenyl ether
  • Bromine