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. 2019 Jan;29(1):33-48.
doi: 10.1038/s41370-018-0049-6. Epub 2018 Jun 28.

Flame Retardant Exposure Assessment: Findings From a Behavioral Intervention Study

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Free PMC article

Flame Retardant Exposure Assessment: Findings From a Behavioral Intervention Study

Elizabeth A Gibson et al. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been largely replaced by organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs) and alternative brominated flame retardants (Alt-BFRs) to meet flammability requirements. Humans are ubiquitously exposed to some variety of flame retardants through contact with consumer products directly or through household dust.

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of house cleaning and hand washing practices to reduce exposure to flame retardants, we measured concentrations in dermal hand wipes and urinary metabolites before and after assignment to two consecutive interventions.

Methods: We selected 32 mother and child dyads from an existing cohort. This analysis focuses on mothers. Participants provided baseline measurements (urine, hand wipes, and questionnaires) and were then assigned for 1 week to either a house cleaning (including instruction on proper technique and cleaning supplies) or hand washing (including instruction on proper technique and soaps) intervention arm. For the second week, participants were assigned to the second intervention in addition to their initial assignment, thus all subjects both washed their hands and cleaned according to the intervention guidelines during week 2. We collected measurements at the end of weeks 1 and 2.

Results: We found reductions in urinary analytes after week 1 of house cleaning (BCIPHIPP and ip-DPHP), week 1 of hand washing (BCIPP, BCIPHIPP, and tbutyl-DPHP), and week 2 of combined interventions (BCIPHIPP and tbutyl-DPHP), compare to baseline. We found no significant decline in hand wipes in the entire sample but did find reductions after week 1 of house cleaning (BDE 209), week 1 of hand washing (TCEP), and week 2 of combined interventions (TDCIPP and BDE 209) in women with exposure above the median at baseline (verified through simulations).

Conclusions: Exposure to individual flame retardants was reduced by about half, in some cases, by 1 week of increased hand washing, house cleaning to reduce dust, or combined activities.

Keywords: Flame retardants; intervention; organophosphate flame retardants; polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Intervention design
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Distributions of urinary metabolites across the study. Boxplots showing the distribution of urinary levels of flame retardant metabolites at baseline, after week 1 (stratified by house cleaning or hand washing intervention), and after week 2 (combined interventions). Boxes represent values between the 25th and 75th percentiles; black lines inside boxes indicate medians; whiskers indicate the range of non-outlier data points. All individual observations are represented by red (hand washing intervention group) or blue (house cleaning intervention group) points. Triangles represent medians for respective group.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Percent change in urinary metabolites of flame retardants across the study. Percent change and 95% confidence intervals for urinary levels of flame retardant metabolites from baseline to week 1 in each intervention arm (hand washing or house cleaning) and from baseline to week 2 (combined interventions). Points represent percent change from baseline. Error bars represent 95% confidence interval.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Distributions of flame retardants in hand wipes across the study, stratified by baseline exposure. Boxplots showing the distribution of flame retardant concentrations measured in hand wipes at baseline, after week 1 (stratified by house cleaning or hand washing intervention), and after week 2 (combined interventions), stratified by median level at baseline. Boxes represent values between the 25th and 75th percentiles; black lines inside boxes indicate medians; whiskers indicate the range of non-outlier data points. All individual observations are represented by red (hand washing intervention group) or blue (house cleaning intervention group) points. Triangles represent medians for respective group.

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