Temporal trends and developmental patterns of plasma polybrominated diphenyl ether concentrations over a 15-year period between 1998 and 2013


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were used extensively as flame retardants in furniture containing polyurethane foam until they were phased out of use, beginning in 2004. We examined temporal changes in plasma PBDE concentrations from 1998 to 2013 and characterized patterns of exposure over the early lifecourse among 334 children (903 samples) between birth and 9 years. We examined time trends by regressing PBDE concentration on year of sample collection in age-adjusted models and characterized developmental trajectories using latent class growth analysis (LCGA). Controlling for age, BDE-47 concentrations decreased 5% (95% confidence interval (CI): −9, −2) per year between 1998 and 2013. When considering only postnatal samples, this reduction strengthened to 13% (95% CI: −19, −9). Findings for BDE-99, 100 and 153 were similar, except that BDE-153 decreased to a lesser extent when both prenatal and postnatal samples were considered (−2%, 95% CI: −7, 0). These findings suggest that, on average, pentaBDE body burdens have decreased since the 2004 phase-out of these chemicals. When examining developmental period, PBDE concentrations peaked during toddler years for the majority of children, however, our observation of several unique trajectories suggests that a single measure may not accurately reflect exposure to PBDEs throughout early life.

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This research was supported by NIH R01 ES021806. During preparation of this manuscript, WJC was supported by NIH T32 ES023772, NIH T32 ES007322, and EPA FP-91779001. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Miss Shenika Christopher who helped to identify potential determinants of interest for investigation in this study.

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Correspondence to Julie B. Herbstman.

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Cowell, W.J., Sjödin, A., Jones, R. et al. Temporal trends and developmental patterns of plasma polybrominated diphenyl ether concentrations over a 15-year period between 1998 and 2013. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 29, 49–60 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-018-0031-3

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  • PBDE
  • Flame retardant
  • Exposure
  • Prenatal
  • Childhood

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