Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants: environmental contamination, human body burden and potential adverse health effects

Acta Biomed. 2008 Dec;79(3):172-83.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are an important class of flame retardants, widely used in a variety of consumer products. In the past several years, PBDEs have become widespread environmental pollutants, and have been detected in water, soil, air, animals and human tissues. Exposure occurs in particular through the diet and the indoor environment. Infants and toddlers have the highest body burden, due to exposure via maternal milk and through house dust. Tetra-, penta- and hexa-BDEs are the congeners most commonly found in humans. Recent concerns on possible adverse health effects of PBDEs are focusing on their potential endocrine disrupting effects and on developmental neurotoxicity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animal Experimentation
  • Animals
  • Body Burden
  • Cats
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endocrine System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Female
  • Flame Retardants / adverse effects*
  • Flame Retardants / toxicity
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Contamination
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / adverse effects*
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / blood
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Trout


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Flame Retardants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers