News Brief

Flame Retardant Exposure Linked to Household Dust

Boston University researchers used this filter to sample household dust for traces of PBDE, finding a link between dust and human PBDE levels.

Tom Webster
Research conducted at Boston University and published in January 2007 in Environmental Science & Technology confirms a long-suspected link between human polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) levels in humans and PBDEs in household dust. Commonly found as flame retardants in household items like foam mattresses and appliance casings, certain PBDEs are considered persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (see EBN Vol. 13, No. 6). Sampling 11 homes, and breast milk from 46 first-time Boston-area mothers, researchers found statistically significant correlations between the levels of dust and the concentrations of contaminants in the women’s milk. Researchers did not find correlations between household characteristics such as appliance use and concentrations of PBDEs in household dust, possibly due to the small sample size and lack of detailed information. In December 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its draft risk assessment for PBDEs, which suggests that many Americans, and especially children, could be at risk.



Published February 1, 2007

Roberts, T. (2007, February 1). Flame Retardant Exposure Linked to Household Dust. Retrieved from

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