Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) and Hexabromocyclodecane (HBCD) in composite U.S. food samples

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OBJECTIVES: This study was designed to update previous U.S. market basket surveys of levels and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) dietary intake calculations. This study also quantifies hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) levels in U.S.-purchased foods for the first time and estimates U.S. dietary intake of HBCD. This is part of a larger market basket study reported in two companion articles, of current levels of certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) PBDEs, HBCD, perfluorinated compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, and pesticides in composite food samples collected in 2008-2009. METHODS: In this study, we measured concentrations of 24 PBDE congeners and total HBCD in composite samples of 31 food types (310 samples). U.S. dietary intake of PBDEs and HBCD was estimated referencing the most current U.S. Department of Agriculture loss-adjusted food availability report. RESULTS: Total PBDE concentrations in food varied by food type, ranging from 12 pg/g wet weight (ww) in whole milk to 1,545 pg/g ww in canned sardines and 6,211 pg/g ww in butter. Total HBCD concentrations also varied substantially within and among food groups, ranging from 23 pg/g in canned beef chili to 593 pg/g in canned sardines. HBCD was not detected in any dairy samples. Dietary intake of all PBDE congeners measured was estimated to be 50 ng/day, mostly from dairy consumption but also from meat and fish. HBCD intake was estimated at 16 ng/day, primarily from meat consumption. CONCLUSION: PBDEs and HBCDs currently contaminate some food purchased in the United States, although PBDE intake estimated in this study is lower than reported in our previous market basket surveys. HBCD is in food at higher levels than expected based on previously reported levels in milk and blood compared with PBDE levels and is comparable to European levels.




Schecter, A., Haffner, D., Colacino, J., Patel, K., Päpke, O., Opel, M., & Birnbaum, L. (2010). Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) and Hexabromocyclodecane (HBCD) in composite U.S. food samples. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(3), 357–362. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.0901345

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