Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 18, pp 18049–18058 | Cite as

Occurrence of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in floor and elevated surface house dust from Shanghai, China

  • Dong Niu
  • Yanling QiuEmail author
  • Li Li
  • Yihui Zhou
  • Xinyu Du
  • Zhiliang Zhu
  • Ling Chen
  • Zhifen Lin
Research Article


House dust is the main source of human exposure to flame retardants by ingestion. This study investigated the occurrence of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in indoor dust from 22 houses in Shanghai, China. House dust was separately collected from the floor and elevated furnishings surface (mostly between 0.5 and 2 m height) for comparison. The concentrations of ∑22 PBDEs ranged from 19.4 to 3280 ng/g (with a geometric mean of 203 ng/g) and from 55.1 to 792 ng/g (with a geometric mean of 166 ng/g) in floor dust (FD) and elevated surface dust (ESD), respectively. BDE-209 was the predominant congener, accounting for about 73.1% of total PBDE burdens. In terms of congener profiles, the comparison of FD and ESD revealed no significant differences except for the ratio of BDE-47/BDE-99. ESD samples displayed a ratio of BDE-47/BDE-99 very similar to commercial penta-BDE products DE-71 while the ratio in FD was exceptionally higher. Significant correlation was found between concentrations of commercial penta-BDE compositions in FD and ESD (p < 0.05). Except for some occasional values, PBDE levels in house dust exhibited temporal stability. Human exposure to PBDEs via dust ingestion was estimated. The highest daily intake of PBDEs was for toddlers by using 95th percentile concentrations of PBDEs via high dust ingestion in FD (23.07 ng/kg bw/day). About 20-fold difference in exposure estimates between toddlers and adults supports that toddlers are facing greater risk from indoor floor dust. Expectedly, this study highlighted the point that residents in Shanghai were exposed to low doses of PBDEs in house dust.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) House dust Floor dust (FD) Elevated surface dust (ESD) Temporal variation Human exposure 



We would like to thank all the volunteers who participated in providing dust samples. Financial support from the Swedish Research Council (No. 639-2013-6913) and Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21777124) are gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1968_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.6 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1614 kb).


  1. Abdallah MA, Covaci A (2014) Organophosphate flame retardants in indoor dust from Egypt: implications for human exposure. Environ Sci Technol 48:4782–4789CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Omran LS, Harrad S (2016) Distribution pattern of legacy and "novel" brominated flame retardants in different particle size fractions of indoor dust in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Chemosphere 157:124–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ali N, Harrad S, Goosey E, Neels H, Covaci A (2011a) "Novel" brominated flame retardants in Belgian and UK indoor dust: implications for human exposure. Chemosphere 83:1360–1365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ali N, Harrad S, Muenhor D, Neels H, Covaci A (2011b) Analytical characteristics and determination of major novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) in indoor dust. Anal Bioanal Chem 400:3073–3083CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Allen JG, McClean MD, Stapleton HM, Webster TF (2008) Critical factors in assessing exposure to PBDEs via house dust. Environ Int 34:1085–1091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Allgood JM, Jimah T, McClaskey CM, La Guardia MJ, Hammel SC, Zeineddine MM, Tang IW, Runnerstrom MG, Ogunseitan OA (2017) Potential human exposure to halogenated flame-retardants in elevated surface dust and floor dust in an academic environment. Environ Res 153:55–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Batterman SA, Chernyak S, Jia CR, Godwin C, Charles S (2009) Concentrations and emissions of polybrominated diphenyl ethers from US houses and garages. Environ Sci Technol 43:2693–2700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bramwell L, Glinianaia SV, Rankin J, Rose M, Fernandes A, Harrad S, Pless-Mulolli T (2016) Associations between human exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants via diet and indoor dust, and internal dose: a systematic review. Environ Int 92-93:680–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cao ZG, Xu FC, Covaci A, Wu M, Wang HZ, Yu G, Wang B, Deng SB, Huang J, Wang XY (2014a) Distribution patterns of brominated, chlorinated, and phosphorus flame retardants with particle size in indoor and outdoor dust and implications for human exposure. Environ Sci Technol 48:8839–8846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cao ZG, Xu FC, Covaci A, Wu M, Yu G, Wang B, Deng SB, Huang J (2014b) Differences in the seasonal variation of brominated and phosphorus flame retardants in office dust. Environ Int 65:100–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cequier E, Ionas AC, Covaci A, Marce RM, Becher G, Thomsen C (2014) Occurrence of a broad range of legacy and emerging flame retardants in indoor environments in Norway. Environ Sci Technol 48:6827–6835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Civan MY, Kara UM (2016) Risk assessment of PBDEs and PAHs in house dust in Kocaeli, Turkey: levels and sources. Environ Sci Pollut R 23:23369–23384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coelho SD, Sousa ACA, Isobe T, Kim JW, Kunisue T, Nogueira AJA, Tanabe S (2016) Brominated, chlorinated and phosphate organic contaminants in house dust from Portugal. Sci Total Environ 569:442–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. EPA US (2008) Integrated risk information system (IRIS). In: National Center for environmental assessment. Avaible online at, Washington, DC Google Scholar
  15. Frederiksen M, Vorkamp K, Thomsen M, Knudsen LE (2009) Human internal and external exposure to PBDEs—a review of levels and sources. Int J Hyg Environ Health 212:109–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Harrad S, Diamond M (2006) New directions: exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): current and future scenarios. Atmos Environ 40:1187–1188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Harrad S, Ibarra C, Abdallah MAE, Boon R, Neels H, Covaci A (2008) Concentrations of brominated flame retardants in dust from United Kingdom cars, homes, and offices: causes of variability and implications for human exposure. Environ Int 34:1170–1175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hassan Y, Shoeib T (2015) Levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and novel flame retardants in microenvironment dust from Egypt: an assessment of human exposure. Sci Total Environ 505:47–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. He CT, Zheng XB, Yan X, Zheng J, Wang MH, Tan X, Qiao L, Chen SJ, Yang ZY, Mai BX (2017) Organic contaminants and heavy metals in indoor dust from e-waste recycling, rural, and urban areas in South China: spatial characteristics and implications for human exposure. Ecotox Environ Safe 140:109–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Herbstman JB, Sjodin A, Kurzon M, Lederman SA, Jones RS, Rauh V, Needham LL, Tang D, Niedzwiecki M, Wang RY, Perera F (2010) Prenatal exposure to PBDEs and neurodevelopment. Environ Health Persp 118:712–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoffman K, Garantziotis S, Birnbaum LS, Stapleton HM (2015) Monitoring indoor exposure to organophosphate flame retardants: hand wipes and house dust. Environ Health Persp 123:160–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Johnson-Restrepo B, Kannan K (2009) An assessment of sources and pathways of human exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the United States. Chemosphere 76:542–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jones-Otazo HA, Clarke JP, Diamond ML, Archbold JA, Ferguson G, Harner T, Richardson GM, Ryan JJ, Wilford B (2005) Is house dust the missing exposure pathway for PBDEs? An analysis of the urban fate and human exposure to PBDEs. Environ Sci Technol 39:5121–5130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kajiwara N, Noma Y, Takigami H (2008) Photolysis studies of technical decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) and ethane (DeBDethane) in plastics under natural sunlight. Environ Sci Technol 42:4404–4409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Khan MU, Li J, Zhang G, Malik RN (2016) New insight into the levels, distribution and health risk diagnosis of indoor and outdoor dust-bound FRs in colder, rural and industrial zones of Pakistan. Environ Pollut 216:662–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kicinski M, Viaene MK, Den Hond E, Schoeters G, Covaci A, Dirtu AC, Nelen V, Bruckers L, Croes K, Sioen I, Baeyens W, Van Larebeke N, Nawrot TS (2012) Neurobehavioral function and low-level exposure to brominated flame retardants in adolescents: a cross-sectional study Environ Health-Glob:11Google Scholar
  27. Korcz W, Strucinski P, Goralczyk K, Hernik A, Lyczewska M, Matuszak M, Czaja K, Minorczyk M, Ludwicki JK (2017) Levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in house dust in Central Poland. Indoor Air 27:128–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Legler J, Brouwer A (2003) Are brominated flame retardants endocrine disruptors? Environ Int 29:879–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Meeker JD, Johnson PI, Camann D, Hauser R (2009) Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations in house dust are related to hormone levels in men. Sci Total Environ 407:3425–3429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. MEPPRC (2016a) Exposure Factors Handbook of Chinese Population (Adults). China Environmental Science Press: Chapter 10 (Chinese Edition)Google Scholar
  31. MEPPRC (2016b) Exposure Factors Handbook of Chinese Population (Children 0–5 years). China Environmental Science Press: Chapter 5/11 (Chinese Edition)Google Scholar
  32. Muenhor D, Harrad S (2012) Within-room and within-building temporal and spatial variations in concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in indoor dust. Environ Int 47:23–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schecter A, Papke O, Joseph JE, Tung KC (2005) Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in US computers and domestic carpet vacuuming: possible sources of human exposure. J Toxicol Env Heal A 68:501–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shoeib M, Harner T, Ikonomou M, Kannan K (2004) Indoor and outdoor air concentrations and phase partitioning of perfluoroalkyl sulfonamides and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Environ Sci Technol 38:1313–1320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Stapleton HM, Dodder NG (2008) Photodegradation of decabromodiphenyl ether in house dust by natural sunlight. Environ Toxicol Chem 27:306–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Stapleton HM, Dodder NG, Offenberg JH, Schantz MM, Wise SA (2005) Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in house dust and clothes dryer lint. Environ Sci Technol 39:925–931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stapleton HM, Misenheimer J, Hoffman K, Webster TF (2014) Flame retardant associations between children's handwipes and house dust. Chemosphere 116:54–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sun J, Wang Q, Zhuang S, Zhang A (2016) Occurrence of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in indoor air and dust in Hangzhou, China: level, role of electric appliances, and human exposure. Environ Pollut 218:942–949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Thuresson K, Bjorklund JA, de Wit CA (2012) Tri-decabrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecane in indoor air and dust from Stockholm microenvironments 1: levels and profiles. Sci Total Environ 414:713–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. UNEP (2009) The 12 initial POPs under the Stockholm convention. Available online at
  41. UNEP (2017) The 16 new POPs under the Stockholm convention. Available online at
  42. Wang BL, Pang ST, Zhang XL, Li XL, Sun YG, Lu XM, Zhang Q (2015) Levels of Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in settled house dust from urban dwellings with resident preschool-aged children in Nanjing, China. Arch Environ Con Tox 68:9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wang J, Ma YJ, Chen SJ, Tian M, Luo XJ, Mai BX (2010) Brominated flame retardants in house dust from e-waste recycling and urban areas in South China: implications on human exposure. Environ Int 36:535–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang W, Huang MJ, Wu FY, Kang Y, Wang HS, Cheung KC, Wong MH (2013) Risk assessment of bioaccessible organochlorine pesticides exposure via indoor and outdoor dust. Atmos Environ 77:525–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wilford BH, Shoeib M, Harner T, Zhu JP, Jones KC (2005) Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in indoor dust in Ottawa, Canada: implications for sources and exposure. Environ Sci Technol 39:7027–7035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wu Q, Baek SY, Fang M, Chang YS (2010) Distribution and fate of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in indoor environments of elementary schools. Indoor Air 20:263–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Xu F, Tang WB, Zhang W, Liu LL, Lin KF (2016) Levels, distributions and correlations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in air and dust of household and workplace in Shanghai, China: implication for daily human exposure. Environ Sci Pollut R 23:3229–3238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yu YX, Pang YP, Li C, Li JL, Zhang XY, Yu ZQ, Feng JL, Wu MH, Sheng GY, Fu JM (2012) Concentrations and seasonal variations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in in- and out-house dust and human daily intake via dust ingestion corrected with bioaccessibility of PBDEs. Environ Int 42:124–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zhang XM, Diamond ML, Ibarra C, Harrad S (2009) Multimedia modeling of Polybrominated diphenyl ether emissions and fate indoors. Environ Sci Technol 43:2845–2850CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhou YH, Chen QF, Du XY, Yin G, Qiu YL, Ye L, Zhu ZL, Zhao JF (2016) Occurrence and trophic magnification of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and their methoxylated derivatives in freshwater fish from Dianshan Lake, shanghai, China. Environ Pollut 219:932–938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhu NZ, Liu LY, Ma WL, Li WL, Song WW, Qi H, Li YF (2015) Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the indoor dust in China: levels, spatial distribution and human exposure. Ecotox Environ Safe 111:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key laboratory of Yangtze River Water Environment, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Shanghai Key Laboratory of Chemical Assessment and Sustainability, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations