Toddler exposure to flame retardant chemicals: Magnitude, health concern and potential risk- or protective factors of exposure: Observational studies summarized in a systematic review

Chemosphere. 2017 Oct;184:820-831. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.06.041. Epub 2017 Jun 14.


Endocrine disrupting flame retardant (FR) chemicals form a human health concern, that is investigated mostly from the perspective of adult- and early life exposure. No overview of studies on toddler exposure and health effects exist. However, toddlerhood is a critical developmental period and toddlers are at increased risk for exposure because of their age-specific behavior. This systematic review encompasses toddler FR exposure studies in three countries, associated health effects and potential environmental, demographic, or behavioral risk- or protective factors for toddler exposure. A systematic literature search in four databases (PubMed,, The Cochrane Library (via Wiley) and Web of Science Core collection) resulted in the identification of ten publications representing seven unique studies that measured brominated and/or phosphorylated FRs in toddlers' (8-24 month-old) serum, urine, hand wipes and feces. This review showed that toddlers are exposed to a range of FRs, that thyroid hormone disruption is associated with FR exposure and that factors in the indoor environment, including products such as plastic toys, might increase FR exposure. Considering the limited amount of studies, and the variety of biological matrices, FRs, and risk- and protective factors, this review did not reveal a uniform pattern of toddler exposure across the different cohorts studied. More evidence is necessary and considering the feasibility of invasive sampling in young children, we suggest to emphasize research on non-invasive matrices.

Keywords: Environmental health; Exposure; Flame retardant; Toddler.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environment
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Flame Retardants / analysis*
  • Halogenation
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Protective Factors


  • Flame Retardants