Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

A Comparison of PBDE Serum Concentrations in Mexican and Mexican-American Children Living in California

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

A Comparison of PBDE Serum Concentrations in Mexican and Mexican-American Children Living in California

Article excerpt

BACKGROUND: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), which are used as flame retardants, have been found to be higher in residents of California than of other parts of the United States.

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to investigate the role of immigration to California on PBDE levels in Latino children.

METHODS: We compared serum PBDE concentrations in a population of first-generation Mexican-American 7-year-old children (n = 264), who were born and raised in California [Center for Health Analysis of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study], with 5-year-old Mexican children (n = 283), who were raised in the states in Mexico where most CHAMACOS mothers had originated (Proyecto Mariposa).

RESULTS: On average, PBDE serum concentrations in the California Mexican-American children were three times higher than their mothers' levels during pregnancy and seven times higher than concentrations in the children living in Mexico. The PBDE serum concentrations were higher in the Mexican-American children regardless of length of time their mother had resided in California or the duration of the child's breast-feeding. These data suggest that PBDE serum concentrations in these children resulted primarily from postnatal exposure.

CONCLUSIONS: Latino children living in California have much higher PBDE serum levels than their Mexican counterparts. Given the growing evidence documenting potential health effects of PBDE exposure, the levels in young children noted in this study potentially present a major public health challenge, especially in California. In addition, as PBDEs are being phased out and replaced by other flame retardants, the health consequences of these chemical replacements should be investigated and weighed against their purported fire safety benefits.

KEY WORDS: biomarkers, children, DDE, DDT, flame retardants, human blood serum, human exposure, Mexican, PBDEs, prenatal. Environ Health Perspect 119:1442-1448 (2011). http:// dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1002874 [Online 15 April 2011]

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants used in polyurethane foam, plastics, textiles, and electronics. They are semi-volarile, persistent, bioaccumulative compounds that have been produced in three technical preparations named according to their average bromine content: penta-BDE, octa-BDE, and deca-BDE. Penta-BDE and octa-BDE were voluntarily phased out in the United States and Europe in 2004. However, exposure to PBDEs is likely ongoing as these compounds continue to migrate our of products manufactured before this time. Additionally, deca-BDE, which is still used in consumer electronics, wire insulation, and back coatings of draperies and upholstery, may devolve into lower-brominated congeners (Stapleton and Dodder 2008).

Lower-brominated PBDEs are endocrine-disrupting compounds with long half-lives in humans ranging from 2 to 12 years (Geyer er al. 2004). Higher exposure levels are associated in humans with longer time-to-pregnancy (Harley et al. 2010), altered menstrual cycles (Chao et al. 2010), decreased sperm counts (Akutsu et al. 2008), altered thyroid hormone levels in adults (Chevrier et al. 2010; Meeker et al. 2009; Turyk et al. 2008) and infants (Herbstman et al. 2008), and developmental neurotoxicity in children exposed prenatally (Herbstman et al. 2010; Roze et al. 2009).

Because PBDEs are not chemically bound to substrates, they are found in household dust, food and, to a lesser extent, air (Frederiksen et al. 2009; Lorber 2008). Previous studies suggest that ingestion and dermal absorption of house dust is the primary route of PBDE exposure in the United States, particularly among children (Johnson-Restrepo and Kannan 2009; Lorber 2008; Stapleton et al. 2008). It is estimated that up to 91% of the body burden of a breast-fed infant is acquired via breast milk (Johnson-Restrepo and Kannan 2009), but as children begin of interact more with their environment, an increasing proportion of exposure is due to nondietary ingestion of dust resulting from hand-to-mouth contact (Stapleton et al. …

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