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Your Environment. Your Health.

Biomonitoring Studies should Include Phosphate Flame Retardants

Julia Brody, Ph.D.
Silent Spring Institute
NIEHS Grant R25ES013258

Based on their analysis of phosphate flame retardant (PFR) metabolite levels in people living in California, an NIEHS grantee and colleagues recommend that future biomonitoring studies include the six major metabolites of the most prominent PFRs.

PFR use is increasing as manufacturers seek replacements for the banned pentabromodiphenyl ether mixtures that were previously used as flame retardants. PFRs are detected at higher concentrations than other flame retardants found in house dust, but little is known about how house dust concentrations relate to biological levels. To find out more, the researchers analyzed urine samples from 16 California residents for the six expected major metabolites of the most prominent PFRs and qualitatively screened for 18 other metabolites predicted from in vitro studies. They also collected dust samples and information about home furniture from the study participants.

The researchers detected all six major PFR metabolites at levels similar to previous reports, although few comparisons are available. The metabolites included one for tris-(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP), a carcinogen that has never been detected in Americans before. For many PFR combinations, metabolite levels were correlated, suggesting they commonly co-occur. Two of the metabolite-parent pairs studied showed weakly positive nonsignificant correlations between urine and dust samples. The authors conclude with several recommendations for how to include PFRs in future biomonitoring studies.

Citation: Dodson RE, Van den Eede N, Covaci A, Perovich LJ, Brody JG, Rudel RA. 2014. Urinary Biomonitoring of Phosphate Flame Retardants: Levels in California Adults and Recommendations for Future Studies. Environ Sci Technol 48(23): 13625-13633.

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