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Environ Res. 2020 Jan;180:108805. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.108805. Epub 2019 Oct 7.

Emerging and legacy brominated flame retardants in the breast milk of first time Irish mothers suggest positive response to restrictions on use of HBCDD and Penta- and Octa-BDE formulations.

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School of Physics and the Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, H91TK33, Ireland.
School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.
Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University Hospital Galway, Galway, H91 YR71, Ireland.
Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Coombe Women's & Infants University Hospital, Dublin, D08 XW7X, Ireland.
Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Dublin, D01 P2V6, Ireland.
School of Physics and the Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, H91TK33, Ireland. Electronic address:


The brominated flame retardants (BFRs) hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD), eight polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) were measured in 16 pools of human milk from Ireland. Concentrations of BDEs-47, -99, -100, -153, and HBCDD were significantly lower (p < 0.05) than those in Irish human milk collected in 2011. In contrast, concentrations of BDE-209 in our study exceeded those in 2011, and while decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) was not detected in 2011 it was detected in 3 of our samples. This suggests increased use of DBDPE and that while restrictions on the Penta- and Octa-BDE formulations are reducing human exposure, those on Deca-BDE use have yet to reduce body burdens. Estimated exposures for nursing infants to all target BFRs do not suggest a health concern. A one compartment pharmacokinetic model was used to predict body burdens arising from BFR intakes via air, dust and diet. While for most targeted BFRs, predicted and observed body burdens derived from our human milk data compared reasonably well; predicted BDE-209 and DBDPE values were substantially lower than observed. This suggests exposure pathways not included in the model like dermal uptake from fabrics may be important, and highlights knowledge gaps about the human half-lives and bioavailability of these contaminants.


BFRs; DBDPE; Human biomonitoring; Temporal trends

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