Human health risk associated with brominated flame-retardants (BFRs)

Environ Int. 2015 Jan;74:170-80. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.09.006. Epub 2014 Oct 29.


The purposes of this review are to assess the human exposure and human and experimental evidence for adverse effects of brominated flame-retardants (BFRs) with specific focus on intake from seafood. The leakage of BFRs from consumer products leads to exposure of humans from fetal life to adulthood. Fish and fish products contain the highest levels of BFRs and dominate the dietary intake of frequent fish eaters in Europe, while meat, followed by seafood and dairy products accounted for the highest US dietary intake. House dust is also reported as an important source of exposure for children as well as adults. The levels of BFRs in the general North American populations are higher than those in Europe and Japan and the highest levels are detected in infants and toddlers. The daily intake via breast milk exceeds the RfD in 10% of US infants. BFRs including PBDEs, HBCDs and TBBP-A have induced endocrine-, reproductive- and behavior effects in laboratory animals. Furthermore, recent human epidemiological data demonstrated association between exposure to BFRs and similar adverse effects as observed in animal studies. Fish including farmed fish and crude fish oil for human consumption may contain substantial levels of BFRs and infants and toddlers consuming these products on a daily basis may exceed the tolerable daily intake suggesting that fish and fish oil alone represent a risk to human health. This intake comes in addition to exposure from other sources (breast milk, other food, house dust). Because potential harmful concentrations of BFRs and other toxicants occur in fish and fish products, research on a wider range of products is warranted, to assess health hazard related to the contamination of fish and fish products for human consumption.

Keywords: Behavior; Endocrine disruption; Fish; Fish oil; PBDEs; Reproductive.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacokinetics
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Flame Retardants / analysis
  • Flame Retardants / pharmacokinetics
  • Flame Retardants / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / analysis
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / chemistry
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / pharmacokinetics
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / toxicity*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment
  • Seafood / analysis


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Flame Retardants
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated