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Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Jul;111(9):1175-9.

High body burdens of 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) in California women.

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  • 1Hazardous Materials Laboratory, Department of Toxic Substances Control, California Environmental Protection Agency, Berkeley 94704, USA.


Following our first report on elevated polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations in California women, we expanded our investigation to include diverse groups of local women. We analyzed additional adipose and serum samples collected in the late 1990s from San Francisco Bay Area women participating in a breast cancer study and in a reproductive study, respectively. Adipose samples (n = 32) were analyzed by low-resolution mass spectrometry in negative-ion chemical ionization mode, whereas serum samples (n = 50) were analyzed by dual-column gas chromatography with electron capture detection. The results confirmed our earlier findings. Concentrations of 2,2,4,4 -tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) in contemporary California women ranged between 5 and 510 ng/g lipid, with a median (16.5 ng/g lipid) 3-10 times higher than those reported from Europe. In contrast, PBDEs were not measurable in any of 420 archived serum samples collected in the 1960s from San Francisco Bay Area women participating in a study of child development. BDE-47 concentrations did not increase with age or with concentrations of a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB-153), suggesting other routes of exposure in addition to diet. Rising body burdens of endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as PBDEs may pose a potential public health threat.

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