Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hydroxylated PBDE metabolites (OH-PBDEs): A six-year temporal trend in Northern California pregnant women

Chemosphere. 2018 Mar;195:777-783. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.12.065. Epub 2017 Dec 11.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are brominated flame retardants. Technical mixtures PentaBDE and OctaBDE were phased out in 2004 through voluntary and regulatory actions with DecaBDE remaining in limited use until 2013. Biomonitoring studies have shown widespread presence of PBDEs in the US and worldwide population. While some studies suggest that human serum concentrations are declining over time, it is unclear whether this trend will continue. Our objective was to examine temporal trends of PentaBDEs and their hydroxylated metabolites (OH-PBDEs) between 2008 and 2014 in populations of ethnically diverse, pregnant women residing in Northern California (n = 111). Serum samples were collected and analyzed by high resolution mass spectrometry for five PentaBDE congeners and two OH-PBDEs. We found widespread exposures in participants from all three time points (2008/09, 2011/12, 2014). Temporal patterns varied substantially by congener. BDE-47, -99 and the OH-PBDEs decreased between 2008/09-2011/12 but plateaued between 2011/12-2014. In contrast, BDE-100 decreased across all years, BDE-153 decreased in the latter years, and BDE-28 decreased initially and then increased. These findings indicate that while policies to remove PBDEs from the marketplace have successfully lead to declines in exposures to some PBDE congeners, human exposures to these legacy pollutants could plateau and remain ubiquitous in human populations.

Keywords: Biomonitoring; California; OH-PBDEs; Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); Pregnant women; Temporal trend.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Flame Retardants / analysis*
  • Flame Retardants / metabolism
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / blood*
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / blood
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / metabolism
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Pregnancy / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Flame Retardants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • hexabrominated diphenyl ether 153
  • pentabrominated diphenyl ether 100
  • 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether
  • pentabromodiphenyl ether
  • tribromodiphenyl ether 28