Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) have been widely used in industrial applications and consumer products. PBDEs are used as flame retardants in many household items, such as furniture, electronics, fabrics, and carpeting. PFCs are used in water- and stain-resistant coatings for textiles, oil-resistant coatings for food packaging and cookware, fire-fighting foams, paints, waxes and polishes. They do not easily degrade in the environment and have relatively long half-lives in the body, and have been concerns in regard to the toxicity in the liver, endocrine system, neurodevelopment, immune system, and reproductive system.
Given concerns over their potential adverse health effects, it is of interest to understand personal exposure to these compounds, especially among the sensitive group of young children and women of childbearing age, and to determine alternative predictors of exposure. This study explored the possibility of predicting serum concentration of PBDEs and PFCs with questionnaire responses on factors including housing characteristics, food intake, and use of consumer products.
Between 2008 and 2009, serum samples were collected from three age groups of population in California: young children (2-8 years old; N=67), parents of young children (<55 years old; N=90), and older adults (≥55 years old; N=59). A number of PBDE congeners and six PFCs were measured. A questionnaire collected information on possible predictors.
Several housing factors were associated with PBDE serum concentrations. Specifically, higher house values were associated with lower serum concentrations; renters had higher serum concentrations than homeowners; and participants living in houses built after 1977 had higher BDE-209 serum concentrations. Associations with home value and renters may reflect socioeconomic differences. However, housing variables were not significantly associated with the change of serum PFCs.
Intake of some food items was associated with elevated serum concentrations of certain PBDE congeners and PFCs, including canned meat (BDE-47, 99 and 154), meat entrees (BDE-209), tuna and white fish (BDE-153, PFDA), dairy fat and freshwater fish (Me-PFOSA-AcOH), crackers and microwaving popcorn (PFOS), and marginally for pork and French fries (PFOA).
For consumer product use, we observed significantly higher concentrations of PFOS and marginally significantly higher concentrations of PFDA, PFOA and PFHxS for participants wearing stain-repellant clothes ≥1 time/week, and marginally higher concentrations of PFOS for those wearing waterproof clothes ≥1 time/week. Higher concentrations were observed among people having used fire extinguishers and people with occupational exposure, such as polishing and coating, than among other persons. No correlation was observed with the use of non-stick cookware or the use of stain-repellant for carpet or furniture.
A number of significant predictors of serum concentrations of PBDEs and PFCs were identified through the current questionnaire, however, the fairly low R-square of the prediction model indicates unknown contributors, suggesting current questionnaire may not sufficiently predict personal exposure to these compounds; additional measurements are necessary.
This work has been supported by a Cooperative Agreement from Autism Speaks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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