A retrospective exposure assessment among the general population for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) was conducted using dietary surveys. We analyzed samples of food duplicate portions collected in the early 1980s (1980 survey: N=40) and the mid 1990s (1995 survey: N=39) from female subjects (5 participants from each of 8 sites per survey except for one site) living throughout Japan, from the north (Hokkaido) to the south (Okinawa). The study populations in the 1980 and 1995 surveys were different, but lived in the same communities. We measured four PBDE congeners [2,2',4,4'-tetrabrominated diphenyl ether (tetraBDE): #47; 2,2',4,4',5-pentaBDE: #99; 2,2',4,4',6-pentaBDE: #100; and 2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexaBDE: #153] in the diet. #99 was the most abundant congener in the diet (49% of the total PBDEs), followed by #47 (33%), #100 (12%) and #153 (6%). Regional variations found in the 1980 survey decreased in the 1995 survey. The total daily intake of PBDEs (ng/d) [GM (GSD)] in the 1980 survey [91.4 (4.1)] was not significantly different from that in the 1995 survey [93.8 (3.4)] for the total population, nor did it differ among the sites including Shimane, in which a 20-fold increase in serum concentrations was observed in the same population. In consideration of the significant increases in the serum concentration, inhalation may be more important than food ingestion as the route of human exposure to PBDEs.
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