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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Mar 1;41(5):1584-9.

Human exposure to PBDEs: associations of PBDE body burdens with food consumption and house dust concentrations.

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Department of Environmental Health (Talbot 2E), Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


This study was designed to determine the body burden of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) among first-time mothers in the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area and to explore key routes of exposure. We collected breast milk samples from 46 first-time mothers, 2-8 weeks after birth. We also sampled house dust from the homes of a subset of participants by vacuuming commonly used areas. Data on personal characteristics, diet, home furniture, and electrical devices were gathered from each participant using a questionnaire. Breast milk and dust samples were analyzed for PBDEs using gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry. PBDE concentrations were log-normally distributed in breast milk and dust. We found statistically significant, positive associations between PBDE concentrations in breast milk and house dust (r = 0.76, p = 0.003, not including BDE-209), as well as with reported dietary habits, particularly the consumption of dairy products (r = 0.41, p = 0.005) and meat (r = 0.37, p = 0.01). Due to low detection rates, it was not possible to draw conclusions about the association between BDE-209 in milk and dust. Our results support the hypothesis that the indoor environment and diet both play prominent roles in adult human exposure to PBDEs.

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