Thyroid function and decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) exposure in Chinese adults from a DBDPE manufacturing area

Environ Int. 2019 Dec;133(Pt A):105179. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.105179. Epub 2019 Oct 15.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are persistent organic pollutants, affect thyroid function. Human exposure to decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE), which has a similar structure to PBDEs, has recently increased, and the health effects of DBDPE have not been well studied. The objective of this study was to determine whether human exposure to DBDPE was associated with thyroid hormone levels in adults from a DBDPE manufacturing area. Three hundred-two blood samples were collected from two populations in the largest DBDPE manufacturing area located in North China: 133 DBDPE occupationally exposed workers from a DBDPE manufacturing plant and 169 non-DBDPE occupationally exposed residents from a nearby food processing plant. The levels of DBDPE, and thyroid function parameters [total thyroxine (TT4), free T4 (FT4), total triiodothyronine (TT3), free T3 (FT3), thyroid-stimulating-hormone (TSH), thyroglobulin antibody (TG-Ab), and thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO-Ab)] were measured in serum samples. Serum concentrations of DBDPE ranged from 3.148 to 54,360 ng g-1 lipid weight (lw), with a geometric mean of 332.6 ng g-1 lw. A 10-fold increase in the DBDPE concentration was associated with increase of 4.73 nmol L-1 [95% confidence interval (CI): 2.75, 6.71] TT4 and 0.046 nmol L-1 TT3 [95% CI: 0.012, 0.081], corresponding to increases of approximately of 4.73% (95% CI: 2.75%-6.71%) and 2.38% (95% CI: 0.62%-4.20%), respectively. DBDPE in serum was also significantly and positively associated with the concentrations of TG-Ab and TPO-Ab. Our study found that exposure to DBDPE was associated with changes in thyroid activity in adults exposed to a high concentration of DBDPE, mainly increases of TT4, TT3, TPO-Ab, and TG-Ab. The association between DBDPE exposure and thyroid homeostasis requires further investigation because increasing DBDPE exposure has emerged in recent years.

Keywords: Brominated flame retardants; Chinese adults; Decabromodiphenyl ethane; Occupational workers; Serum; Thyroid hormones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bromobenzenes / pharmacology*
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine / blood


  • Bromobenzenes
  • decabromodiphenyl ethane
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine