Air concentrations of PBDEs on in-flight airplanes and assessment of flight crew inhalation exposure

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2013 Jul;23(4):337-42. doi: 10.1038/jes.2012.62. Epub 2012 Jun 27.


To address the knowledge gaps regarding inhalation exposure of flight crew to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on airplanes, we measured PBDE concentrations in air samples collected in the cabin air at cruising altitudes and used Bayesian Decision Analysis (BDA) to evaluate the likelihood of inhalation exposure to result in the average daily dose (ADD) of a member of the flight crew to exceed EPA Reference Doses (RfDs), accounting for all other aircraft and non-aircraft exposures. A total of 59 air samples were collected from different aircraft and analyzed for four PBDE congeners-BDE 47, 99, 100 and 209 (a subset were also analyzed for BDE 183). For congeners with a published RfD, high estimates of ADD were calculated for all non-aircraft exposure pathways and non-inhalation exposure onboard aircraft; inhalation exposure limits were then derived based on the difference between the RfD and ADDs for all other exposure pathways. The 95th percentile measured concentrations of PBDEs in aircraft air were <1% of the derived inhalation exposure limits. Likelihood probabilities of 95th percentile exposure concentrations >1% of the defined exposure limit were zero for all congeners with published RfDs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Aircraft*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / analysis


  • 2,2',4,4',5-brominated diphenyl ether
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • pentabrominated diphenyl ether 100
  • 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether
  • decabromobiphenyl ether