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Chemosphere. 2008 Nov;73(10):1654-60. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.07.071. Epub 2008 Sep 10.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in aircraft cabins--a source of human exposure?

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1
Department of Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

Commercial aircrafts need a high degree of fire protection for passenger safety. Brominated flame retardants (BFRs), including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), may be used for this purpose. Because PBDEs readily absorb to dust particles, aircraft crew and passengers may receive significant PBDEs exposure via inhalation. The aims of this work were to assess whether PBDEs could be found in aircraft cabin dust and whether serum levels of PBDEs increased in passengers after long-distance flights. Hence nine subjects on intercontinental flights collected cabin dust samples, as well as donated blood samples before departure and after return to Sweden. Two subjects who were domestic frequent flyers were also investigated. The levels of PBDEs in dust and serum were determined by GC/MS in electron capture negative ionization (ECNI) mode. Authentic reference substances were used for identification and quantitation. PBDEs were found in all aircraft dust samples at high concentrations, higher than in common household dust. Congener patterns indicated that the technical products PentaBDE, OctaBDE and DecaBDE were used in the aircrafts. Serum concentrations in the travellers were similar to those observed in Swedish residents in general. Post-travel serum levels of BDE-28, BDE-99, BDE-100, BDE-153, and BDE-154 were significantly higher (p<0.05) than concentrations prior to travel. The findings from this pilot study call for investigations of occupational exposures to PBDEs in cabin and cockpit crews.

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